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An information officer with the BC Wildfire Service says the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in the efforts to fight the 215-square-kilometre Stoddart Creek fire burning about 25 kilometres away from Fort St. John. Hannah Swift says crews were focusing on the fire’s southern flank, adding control lines between the flames and populated areas. The number of personnel deployed to that blaze and several others near the city  has grown to nearly 500, and Swift says they were watching the forecast closely for another stretch of hotter conditions and potentially problematic winds. Residents of Fort St. John breathed a collective sigh of relief despite smoky skies as the city lifted its wildfire evacuation alert, but more than 13-hundred properties in the surrounding area remain on evacuation order.

Environment Canada says wildfire smoke has been widespread throughout northeastern and central BC and extending into parts of the southern Interior. The weather office warned the smoke was likely to worsen over the next day. Michael Mehta, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Thompson Rivers University, is encouraging people to wear face masks in smoky areas. He says the risks associated with wildfire smoke are numerous and serious, but they’re not always understood by the public.

Police in a community just outside Victoria say a municipal employee has died on the job after being hit by a vehicle in the area where he was working. Oak Bay police released few details, but say the incident occurred in the 17-hundred-block of Monterey Avenue, near the local fire and police department headquarters. The District of Oak Bay says in a statement it is devastated to share the news of the loss of one of its employees in a motor vehicle crash while on duty. Police say the driver of the vehicle involved was taken to hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

A forensic pathologist says it was his “certain conclusion” that a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby park six years ago died of strangulation, after her alleged killer’s lawyer asked if wording in the autopsy report left any room for doubt. Dr. Jason Morin, who performed the autopsy, testified under cross-examination that he took swabs of the girl’s neck to preserve any DNA that might have been left by her attacker. Ibrahim Ali has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the trial, and his lawyer Ben Lynskey quoted from portions of Morin’s autopsy report saying the girl’s death was “suspicious and consistent with strangulation.” Asked whether the language was intentional because there could be another potential cause, Morin testified that nothing else he found would have explained her death.

Police in New Westminster say a suspect has been arrested after witnesses reported a taxi driving erratically in a busy area, striking other cars and pedestrians. They say officers flooded the area and used their vehicles to block the taxi in, arresting its driver, who was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Police say the investigation is in its early stages, but they believe the taxi was stolen in a carjacking incident. Anyone with video footage is asked to call police.

A small team charged with reuniting British Columbians with forgotten money is poised to hand over its largest-ever payout later this month. The BC Unclaimed Property Society, now BC Unclaimed, is finishing the paperwork to hand over 1.98-million dollars to a claimant who previously didn’t know it existed. The society works to give back money left abandoned in places like old bank accounts, government departments or unclaimed court payments. Staff say the organization, which has been around for two decades, has a database of 190-million dollars unclaimed around the province.