32-year-old manager killed in chemical incident at Buffalo Wild Wings

Officials have identified the employee killed when exposed to a strong cleaning agent at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Burlington Thursday evening.

According to officials, firefighters responded to the restaurant around 5:30 p.m. for reports of a chemical reaction in the kitchen.

At the scene, first responders found an employee who said he felt nauseous after breathing in fumes from the cleaning agent. The man was rushed to Lahey Hospital in serious condition, but was later pronounced dead.

On Friday, Burlington Fire officials identified him as 32-year-old Ryan Baldera. Co-workers and friends said Baldera was a new dad to a baby boy and got married last year.

At least 10 others were injured in the incident. Interim Burlington Fire Chief Michael Patterson said among those hurt, two were customers and eight were employees. Nine of the injured people drove themselves to Lahey Hospital while the 10th victim went to a Lowell hospital, he said.

Symptoms included shortness of breath, watery eyes and difficulty breathing. Patterson said patients at Lahey Hospital were treated with oxygen and being monitored.

Patterson said the product that is believed to have caused the incident is Super 8, a common floor-cleaning product that's an Environmental Protection Agency-approved pesticide. The active ingredient in Super 8, according to the manufacturer, Auto-Chlor Systems, is sodium hypochlorite, which the Centers for Disease Control and Protection says is "an effective disinfectant having broad applications."

If inhaled, the person should be removed from the room and breathe in fresh air.

On Friday, officials said the product Scale Kleen, a floor cleaner, was spilled while a worker was using Super 8, a product used to sanitize food preparation surfaces, on the floor and that is what caused the reaction.

Cameras caught emergency crews wearing hazmat suits, which an expert said are the highest level of protective suits. This could mean crews were concerned that another product could have been mixed with the cleaner, eventually causing the death and hospitalizations.

A preliminary investigation shows one employee had prepared the floor for cleaning and was immediately exposed to the chemical. That employee ran out of the restaurant for fresh air.

The employee who later died was exposed to the chemical as he attempted to drain it out of the building.

Firefighters evacuated the building and a tier 1 hazardous material response was called for.

Authorities stress that there is no current threat to the public, but the restaurant will be closed for the night while the investigation continues.

A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson issued the following statement regarding the incident:

"We are shocked and saddened to learn of this horrific accident at our franchise-owned sports bar and are working closely with our franchisee and the authorities while they conduct an investigation. Because the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to share any additional comment at this time. Any further questions will need to be referred to the local authorities."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the incident and police and firefighters will continue to investigate throughout the night. It is unclear when the restaurant will reopen.

Following his death, the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a memorial fund for Baldera's family. Those who would like to contribute to the fund can send a check payable to the "Ryan Baldera Memorial Fund" to:

Cambridge Savings Bank
214 Cambridge St., Burlington, MA 01803

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