07/09/2015 09:48 EDT | Updated 07/09/2016 05:59 EDT

B.C. fire forces closure of parks and trails near Port Alberni

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District on Vancouver Island has closed all regional parks and trails due to extreme fire danger in the area.

The Dog Mountain wildfire on Sproat Lake, east of Port Alberni, B.C., has been burning since Saturday. It has burned down one cabin and forced the evacuation of 18 homes.

The blaze has now reached 400 hectares in size and with little immediate relief in sight, the regional district decided to close its parks and trails until further notice.

"What was interesting is it first came from users of the trails themselves, who had a concern that because of extreme danger in forests, we needed to be proactive and take this step," said Russell Dyson, the district's chief administrative officer and director of the emergency operations centre.

"We have phenomenal trails in the Alberni Valley and [it is] hard to have to ask the public to be off of them," he says. "[But] for the safety of the community, for the safety of the forest, we had to close them."

Dyson says volunteers will spend the next few days putting up signs and educating parks and trail users about the closure.

The closure, which includes Log Train Trail and the Alberni Inlet Trail, will remain in effect until a substantial change in the weather helps lower the forest fire hazard, Dyson said.

Listen to the interview: Parks and trails near Port Alberni closed due to wildfire