Briella TomassettiMar 13, 2018, 6:54 pmMar 13, 2018, 7:07 pm

3 Central Islip firefighters charged with arson

They fought the fires they started, according to officials

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HAUPPAUGE — Three Central Islip volunteer firefighters have been arrested for arson following an investigation by Suffolk County detectives.

Suffolk police say five abandoned houses — four of them in Central Islip and one of them in Hauppauge — were all intentionally set on fire within a 4-month period. Officials say the people responsible for setting those fires are the men who were supposed to be putting them out: Stephen Hernandez, 25, Austin Lehman, 19, of Central Islip, and Shawn Key, 27, of North Babylon are charged with arson.

"The individuals involved responded to the fires, and I want to make it clear that they put the fellow members of the Central Islip Fire Department in great jeopardy," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said.

All three were members of the Central Islip Fire Department from October 2017 to January 2018.

"There was a pattern to these fires that was identified by the arson section,” Police Commissioner Cameron said, highlighting that all five houses were abandoned and located in the northern section of the fire district. ”That's what prompted the investigation."

Cameron would not go into detail about whether or not there was a motive.

All three men were arraigned this morning at First District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday.

Police Commissioner Cameron noted that their actions do not reflect in any way on the other members of the Central Islip Volunteer Fire Department, who all cooperated fully with the investigation.

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