SHAMOKIN - The city's director of public safety reminds residents that burning wood, paper, cardboard and the like in a backyard fire pit is illegal.

R. Craig Rhoades, city councilman, says charcoal or other material that does not have an open flame is permissible to burn in fire pits and fire tables, which have become a popular addition for those with decks and patios. However, any material that creates a sustained flame is not.

Ordinance barring bonfires and the like have been on the city's books since 1940.

"Within the city limits, the homes are constructed too close together to allow open burning," Rhoades said Wednesday. "The embers can float away and create a hazard."

There have been multiple calls weekly from concerned citizens who have spotted open flames burning in backyards in the city, he said. Residents responsible for the fires have said they were being used to roast and toast campfire fare. Their intentions are good, Rhoades said, but the open flames cannot be allowed.

"If we start getting called back to the same location several times, there will be citations issued," he said.