Several wildfires in Blair County over the past several weeks have had one thing in common.
They've been started by people, even if unintentionally.
March, April and May are prime forest fire months when dry conditions and winds can quickly turn a small backyard blaze into a full-fledged wildfire.
"It really keeps the volunteer fire companies hopping," said Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Brady said until the area's woods "green up" in mid-May, conditions are ripe for wildfires.
So far, it's been a typical spring as far as the number of brush fires, Brady said, but there has been an uptick across the state that began the latter part of the week of April 5. Until then, there had been 80 reported wildfires affecting 500 acres around the state, but since, there have been 30 fires involving 300 acres.
Brady said as the weather gets better, and drier, and with people heading into the woods to fish, the chance of wildfires increases.
Local firefighters knocked down a brush fire April 12 in an area west of Altoona called Bum's Woods, according to Rick Meintel, DCNR forest fire specialist supervisor responsible for investigating wildfires in Blair County.
It's one of a couple that Meintel noted were all started due to human activity, including one Wednesday night on Brush Mountain that was caused by a vehicle or ATV.
Another on Rossman Road near Grazierville was started when burning backyard debris got out of control, Meintel said. The fire got within about 4 feet of a garage before it was put out.
"A 10-mph wind on a little leaf fire, and it can get out of your grasp in minutes," Meintel said, adding that despite the rain, conditions outdoors are not as wet as many people think.
Fortunately, the wildfires so far in the area have remained small, under 10 acres, Meintel noted.
Meintel said Blair County is blessed with a good number of firefighters trained and willing to respond to brush fires.
A wildfire about 15 miles south of Bedford just off Route 220 kept firefighters busy this weekend, including members of the Northern Blair County Forest Fire Crew.
Now in its 11th year, the crew is made up of firefighters from across the county, from Martinsburg to Tyrone, and responded Sunday to help fight the Bedford County blaze that by Sunday was pushing 200 acres and was about 20 percent contained, noted Dave Lynch, who heads up the crew.
Lynch noted the crew doesn't cover any particular area and helps local departments deal with brush fires.
If a brush fire kicks up while local volunteers are busy responding to a structure fire or auto accident, or they become too large, the forest fire crew is ready to jump in and help.
Before this weekend, the crew had only been called out once.
The fire companies have been able to handle the majority of the fires, Lynch said.
Lynch pointed out the Mid-State Airport near Black Moshannon State Park houses the area's aerial tankers that can be called out to respond to large fires and area fire towers are being manned as the weekend's risk of forest fires was between moderate and high.
Meintel said the two leading causes of wildfires are arson and careless burning, and those responsible will pay the consequences, whether that be with their wallet or through criminal prosecution.
Meintel said costs can add up fast as fees of $50 per truck and hourly rates for each firefighter are factored in.
"And if it's an arson, we prosecute to the fullest extent of the law," Meintel said.