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Cheektowaga officials said they had town residents in mind this week when the Town Board unanimously passed a new law against "open burning."

Town police gave up trying to enforce the old law in 1998 after the town attorney called it "ineffective and unenforceable."

But now, people who start fires outdoors can face a fine of up to $250, or 15 days in jail.

Exceptions are made for outdoor grills and fireplaces -- as long as they're being used "for the preparation of food."

The new law even stipulates that "typical" fuel be used.

"If it's a cooking fire, fine," said the law's sponsor, Council Member Thomas M. Johnson. "But when . . . the neighbors can't keep their windows open because of the smoke -- then it's not fine."

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