BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) – A recently married man with a new baby who worked as the general manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Burlington was killed and at least 10 other people were hospitalized following a chemical incident at the restaurant on Thursday night, fire officials said.
Interim Burlington Fire Chief Michael Patterson identified the victim as 32-year-old Ryan Baldera.
Emergency crews responding to a reported chemical reaction in the kitchen area of the South Avenue restaurant just after 5:30 p.m. found a male employee who was suffering from nausea after he apparently breathed in the fumes of a powerful cleaning agent, according to Patterson.
Baldera was rushed to Lahey Hospital, where he later died.
Patterson said a highly acidic detergent was being mixed to be used as a floor cleaner.
Baldera was trying to get the chemical out of the building after the person who mixed it became ill, Peterson added.
In a statement, Baldera’s family said:
“Ryan was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, and cherished uncle, nephew, and son-in-law, to his close knit family and friends. While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons. Our family asks for the public and the media to respect our privacy while we mourn Ryan’s untimely death.”
At least 10 other employees and two customers checked themselves into the hospital for symptoms that included difficulty breathing, burning eyes and shortness of breath.
“The patients are being treated and monitored,” Patterson said. “They were put on oxygen. I do not believe that anybody is in serious condition at this time.”
One customer recalled smelling the chemical before seeing the employees run out of the building.
“We’re just sitting there and then all of a sudden we start smelling the whatever it was, ammonia or whatever it smelled like, and all of a sudden the inside of my nose starts burning,” he said. “We see the employees, like the waitstaff, everybody just flee.”
Another customer, Michael Burnstein, said there was no communication between the employees and the customers about the incident.
“One of the things that went through my mind is we’re sitting there and what are we supposed to do? Is everything OK? Should we even be breathing this air,” he said.
A statement released by a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson read in part: “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.”
Anyone who was in the restaurant and thinks they may have been impacted by the mixture is urged to seek medical treatment.
The cause of the incident remains under investigation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified.
Cambridge Savings Bank
214 Cambridge St.
Burlington, MA 01803
A GoFundMe has also been set up in Baldera’s name.
This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details.
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