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'Rodent Infestation' Shutters Twentynine Palms Commissary

Marcie Garcia, a Cooking Matters tour participant, chooses the health food at the Twentynine Palms commissary on Oct. 9, 2014. The commissary remains closed while officials deal with a rodent infestation. Pfc. Julio McGraw/Marine Corps
Marcie Garcia, a Cooking Matters tour participant, chooses the health food at the Twentynine Palms commissary on Oct. 9, 2014. The commissary remains closed while officials deal with a rodent infestation. Pfc. Julio McGraw/Marine Corps

The commissary at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms is closed until further notice thanks to a "rodent infestation," officials with the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced Oct. 12.

"Rodent infestations can escalate quickly under certain circumstances," commissary officials said in a statement released Thursday. "DeCA regrets any inconveniences the store closure has caused to our commissary patrons and is working to diligently address the issue so the store can be reopened."

The store was shuttered at 7 p.m. Oct. 11, according to base officials. Details weren't immediately available on the extent of the rodent issue. The base shut down the store's produce and bakery operations earlier that day.

Twentynine Palms is located in a remote area of California with few other nearby grocery options for families and troops stationed there. A Stater Bros. market is located about 10 miles off base, while a Walmart is about a 40-minute drive.

DeCA has dispatched a team of health experts to the store but does not yet know when the store will reopen, officials said.

"DeCA has sent public health, sanitation, engineer and store operation experts to the store and is working with installation personnel to ensure the facility is thoroughly cleaned and to address where and how the pests are entering the store," commissary officials said.

"We plan to completely resolve the issues at Twentynine Palms and reopen the commissary once all health and sanitation standards are met," they added.

Base officials said commissary shoppers who are worried about whether their recent purchases are OK to eat may be able to file a refund claim with the Navy's tort claim unit (TCU).

"They will need to fill out an SF 95 package. TCU prefers that the claims be emailed to them at TORTCLAIMSUNIT@navy.mil," base officials said.

Those wishing to file a claim should include "supporting documentation for the loss, such as receipts or bank records," they said.

The mailing address for TCU is: Office of the Judge Advocate General Tort Claims Unit Norfolk, 9620 Maryland Ave. Suite 205, Norfolk, VA 23511-2949.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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