Ex-firefighter charged in deadly N. Lawrence blaze

A former volunteer firefighter was arrested Friday for allegedly setting a North Lawrence home on fire, resulting in the deaths of four people on Feb. 19. Caleb Lacey, 19, was charged with arson and

News 12 Staff

Mar 23, 2009, 1:24 PM

Updated 5,597 days ago

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A former volunteer firefighter was arrested Friday for allegedly setting a North Lawrence home on fire, resulting in the deaths of four people on Feb. 19.
Caleb Lacey, 19, was charged with arson and four counts of second-degree murder for allegedly killing Marena Vanegas, 46, and her children, ages 9, 13 and 20. Vanegas' husband and the couple's two other children were able to escape by jumping out a back window.
Police say Lacey used gasoline to start the fire in a stairwell that leads up to Vanegas' apartment on Lawrence Avenue because he wanted to be known for saving the family from the flames.
"The person setting the fire wants to be the hero in saving lives or putting out the fire, and in this case, four innocent lives were lost," says Detective Lt. John Azzata, of the Nassau County Police Department.
According to investigators, Lacey, who started volunteering with the Lawrence Cedarhurst Fire Department last year, responded to the blaze in February and helped put it out. Relatives of the victims say what makes the situation especially painful is the fact that he was a friend of the family.
Police say Lacey was suspended from the department shortly after the fire for unrelated reasons. He is being held without bail.


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