PLATTSBURGH — Three years ago several area residents and about three dozen college students woke to find flames erupting around them.

In the early morning hours of Easter 2006, someone circled the center-city area in Plattsburgh and set fire to a car, garage, couch and garbage cans.

Two of those blazes spread and heavily damaged nearby apartment buildings, displacing about 40 Plattsburgh State students.

The arsons sparked an extensive investigation that lasted until late last year when strategic surveillance allegedly caught Matthew Card setting fire to a garbage pile.

Plattsburgh City Police said that, through the years, they were able to identify a pattern in the sporadic arsons and used routine patrols and surveillance cameras to catch the alleged arsonist.

After his arrest, Card, 24, allegedly admitted setting at least 16 fires locally and one in his hometown of Edmeston, south of Utica. However, he has since denied the allegations.

His case was later transferred to Clinton County Court, where he recently appeared for the first time and once again pleaded not guilty to a string of arson charges.

Police said Card was attending college locally when the fire spree started.

He is being represented by attorney Mark Anderson and is due back in court May 1 for a pre-trial conference.

Card continues to be held on the charges at Franklin County Jail.

Clinton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Kristy Sprague said Card was transferred from Clinton County Jail because one of his alleged victim’s is employed there.

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