Santa Cruz County survivors of the CZU Lightning Complex fires have until Dec. 15 to sign up for debris removal and complete right-of-entry forms to move forward with property reconstruction.

Residents may hire a private contractor to do the second phase of debris cleanup with county approval or choose the free county option in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

For both options, applications must be filed by Dec. 15 or people risk being charged for county-managed cleanup services.

The county debris removal program can discard vehicles, hazardous trees and remnants of the fire like ash and structural remains that pose threats to human and environmental health.

The free public option is available to all residents regardless of insurance. Those who do have private insurance will be asked to provide information so the county can collect funds to cover cleanup costs. In any case, homeowners will not be subject to any out-of-pocket costs.

The county’s planning department will not approve temporary housing permit applications or rebuilding permits until residents have a completion certificate provided by the county’s environmental health department.

Structures of 120 square feet or less may be exempt from the debris removal process and can file for an exemption online.

Fire victims can visit the county’s website to send in the application, watch a town hall describing the debris removal process and find answers to frequently asked questions. Property owners can also call 831-454-2022 to make appointments with Santa Cruz County Environmental Health.