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Alberta’s 2020 wildfire season underway after a challenging 2019

Click to play video 'Alberta wildfire season: 2019 a tough year for fire crews' Alberta wildfire season: 2019 a tough year for fire crews
Wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather said 2019 was tough for firefighters.

While the first day of spring is still more than two weeks away and snow covers much of Alberta, Sunday officially marked the first day of wildfire season.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said wildfire season begins one month earlier in Alberta than in any other province.

Officials said research shows wildfires are starting earlier and lasting longer than they were previously.

READ MORE: 3 months after sparking, Chuckegg Creek wildfire in northern Alberta finally under control

Officials said nearly 1,000 wildfires burned more than 880,000 hectares in the province in 2019.

The Chuckegg Creek wildfire near High Level forced roughly 5,000 people from their homes. It was over 350,000 hectares in size and burned out of control for 70 days last summer.

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The ministry said more than 70 per cent of Alberta wildfires were caused by humans last year, and the devastating McMillan wildfire near Slave Lake in May 2019 was started by arson.

READ MORE: Alberta government approves $30M in disaster funding for wildfire, flood damage

Wildfire season continues until Oct. 31.

WATCH BELOW: 2019 was a wild weather year in Alberta

Click to play video 'From destructive tornadoes to raging wildfires: top 5 Alberta weather events of 2019' From destructive tornadoes to raging wildfires: top 5 Alberta weather events of 2019
From destructive tornadoes to raging wildfires: top 5 Alberta weather events of 2019