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Bed Bug Scare Closes Two Goodwill Warehouses

A government study counted one death and 80 illnesses linked to bedbug-targeting insecticides used from 2008 through 2010.  Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster
A government study counted one death and 80 illnesses linked to bedbug-targeting insecticides used from 2008 through 2010. Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster
Written by Bay City New

A bed bug scare has forced Goodwill Industries to shut down two Bay Area warehouses and dispose of loads of donated goods, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The infestation, which was confirmed in Goodwill's San Francisco warehouse by bug-sniffing dogs on Monday, was confined to an isolated area of the 30,000-square-foot storage facility at 11th and Mission streets, said Tim Murray, director of brand and marketing for Goodwill in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.

Exterminators will tent and treat the affected area, which is approximately 20 square feet, in the coming days, he said. On Wednesday, bug experts will be inspecting the Burlingame warehouse at 1215 California Drive, where bed bugs were reportedly spotted over the weekend.

In the meantime, Goodwill has disposed of loads of donated goods that were stored near the infested areas, and steam-cleaned hundreds of pounds of garments, textiles and fabrics that were kept in the same facilities, Murray said.

"We're going way beyond what we have to for the health and safety of our team members and customers," Murray said. "This is a really unfortunate occurrence that has befallen us." Murray said 15 boxes containing 40 cubic yards of donated goods -- enough to fill a tractor-trailer -- were removed from the Burlingame facility
and thrown out.

"We're taking no risks," he said, adding that the outbreak could cost Goodwill hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost inventory and other expenses.

"This is an enormous financial hit for us," he said.

So far, no bed bugs have been detected in any of Goodwill's 21 retail stores throughout San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties, all of which remain open for business. Goodwill donation stations in Redwood City, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. Retail sales account for more than 80 percent of Goodwill's operations, Murray said.

However, the outbreak has interrupted Goodwill's non-profit job training services and could force the organization to dispose of tons of donated goods, depending on how much of the Burlingame warehouse -- if any -- is found to be infested, he said.

Regardless, the organization will do whatever is necessary to protect the public, Murray said. "The bug stops here," he said. "We'll do whatever it takes to
isolate the outbreak."

Murray said that anyone considering donating goods should never do so if they suspect their property is infested.

Anyone wishing to support Goodwill finically can donate online at
sfgoodwill.org.

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