Sunshine and clear blue skies have made for more pleasant days, but they've also made conditions ripe for brush fires.

On Monday, there were more than 59 wildfires reported to the S.C. Forestry Commission.

"Our agency was very busy," said Scott Hawkins, a commission spokesman. "We had high winds all over."

It was so windy Monday that the commission canceled some prescribed burns that had been scheduled in Horry County, he said. Prescribed burns are fires that are deliberately set to prevent forest fires by burning off the underbrush.

Wildfire season usually begins in late winter or early spring, Hawkins said.

Not every wildfire gets reported to the state, Hawkins said. Many small brush fires are handled by regular fire departments.

A Lincolnville man who was burning a pile of old lumber in his backyard Monday told Charleston County sheriff's deputies that he left the fire burning while he went to a store. When he came back, the fire had spread into two neighboring yards, causing damage to a trailer on one property.

The man was cited for unlawful burning, a violation of Lincolnville ordinances.

On Tuesday, there was less wind and fewer fires, with only 32 wildfires reported statewide.

Several small brush fires near Ashley Phosphate and Midland Park roads cast a pall of smoke over Interstate 26 in the afternoon. Bianca Sancic, a spokeswoman for the North Charleston Fire Department, said crews put out the fires quickly.

Most brush fires and wildfires are started by people burning debris, Hawkins said.

"You have low relative humidity. The winds kick up. It gets warmer, then people start burning."

Though most cities and towns have ordinances that prohibit burning, residents of unincorporated areas are generally permitted to burn yard debris, Hawkins said.

"You still have to notify the Forestry Commission prior to starting the fire," Hawkins said. The commission has a toll-free number for each county.

The commission does not issue burn permits, he said. Those usually have to be obtained from local authorities, often a local fire department. Even with a burn permit, the commission still must be notified, he said.

In a related development, Joint Base Charleston announced it would be conducting prescribed burns this week in the timberlands of the Naval Weapons Station near Goose Creek. The smoke may be visible from North Rhett Avenue, Red Bank Road, Bushy Park Road and the Don Holt Bridge on Interstate 526.

Officials ask you to refrain from calling 911 or the local fire departments to report these fires. The Joint Base Charleston Emergency Dispatcher can confirm authorized burning activity at 764-7555. For additional information on prescribed burning call Joint Base Charleston Natural Resources Office at 764-7951.