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Workers who lost wages or jobs due to the region’s recent fires may now take advantage of an extended deadline of Dec. 18 to apply for monetary benefits under the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the extension Monday for those who are now unemployed as a direct result of the Sonoma County wildfires in October. Claims filed to the state’s Employment Development Department after the new deadline also will be considered if an applicant can show reasonable cause for a late submission.

“This is an important support for the many residents and workers affected by fires in our county,” Katie Greaves, director of the employment and training division for the Sonoma County Human Services Department, said in a news release.

“The number of customers visiting the job link office for employment and job search support doubled in the four weeks after the fire.”

As of Nov. 8, residents have filed 4,700 claims for disaster unemployment benefits. Applicants from Sonoma, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Orange and Yuba counties may qualify, but must meet all eligibility criteria during the life of the claim to continue receiving the weekly financial benefit that expires on April 14, 2018.

Applications may be filed in person in the employment office located at 2227 Capricorn Way in Santa Rosa Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by phone during those same business hours at 707-565-5550, or online at sonomawib.org.

More information about the federal assistance program is available at: sonomacountyrecovery.org/unemployment.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or at kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.