A giant fireball is seen as a wildfire rips through the forest 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alberta on Highway 63 on May 7, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Fire season is just starting in Alberta. But it may end up being one of the worst in history.

By mid-May, the province had almost 500 wildfires. The fires burned more than 721,000 hectares. That’s bigger than Prince Edward Island.

Turning up the heat

The province had a very dry spring with only half as much rain as usual. A high-pressure system settled in at the end of April. It brought days of record heat and strong winds.

Nothing was growing yet. The grass wasn’t green. There weren’t any leaves on the trees. But it felt as hot as summer.