BURLINGTON, MA — The worker who died following a chemical accident at Burlington’s Buffalo Wild Wings Thursday evening was the restaurant’s general manager, officials confirmed Friday. According to interim Chief Michael Patterson, the manager was 32-year-old Ryan Baldera. He was one of 14 people affected by the incident.
The Burlington Fire Department responded to the South Avenue restaurant after receiving a call at 5:36 p.m. Firefighters found Armstrong Ambulance Service EMTs treating the Baldera, who was in serious condition and nauseous after breathing in fumes. He was taken to Lahey Hospital, where he died.
Baldera, of Lawrence, was a new dad to a three-month-old baby boy. Flowers have been left outside the restaurant.
The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce set up a memorial fund for Baldera’s family. Those who would like to contribute can send a check payable to the “Ryan Baldera Memorial Fund” to:
Cambridge Savings Bank
214 Cambridge St.
Burlington, MA 01803
Patterson explained that the accident resulted from two cleaning products being mixed together.
“One of the employees was cleaning the floor of the restaurant, he used a product Super 8, and he also used a product Scale Kleen,” said Patterson. “When these two chemicals mix together, it caused a chemical reaction, which made a number of people sick.”
Super 8 is a concentrated chlorine bleach, while Scale Kleen is an acid-based cleaning product. Patterson said officials believe the employee was unaware of the danger of mixing them. That employee made it out to fresh air, but Baldera attempted to squeegee deadly mixture out of the building, at which point he was overcome. By the time first responders arrived, he was very sick, Patterson said.
Firefighters on the scene did what they could to ventilate the restaurant, opening windows and doors and setting up fans, said Patterson, in addition to calling the state hazmat team.
The state team inspected the site Thursday night around 9:30 and cleared it as safe, but the restaurant remained closed Friday. The state team took readings of the site, finding low levels of toxic fumes, and spread a neutralizer on the floor, Patterson said.
The restaurant was turned over to the Buffalo Wild Wings district manager. Cleanup by Servpro was ongoing Friday afternoon, and the restaurant will need to be cleared by the Burlington Board of Health before it can reopen.
A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson released this statement:
“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.”
Of the people who were hospitalized, two were diners, said Patterson. Their symptoms included difficulty breathing, runny/watery eyes and shortness of breath.
“Patients are being treated and monitored. They were placed on oxygen,” Patterson said. “I do not believe anybody is in serious condition right now.”
Other than the manager who died, all the other people who were hospitalized took themselves to the hospital, officials said.
Autochlor, which manufacturers both cleaning agents SUPER 8 and Scale Kleen, released the following statement:
“We understand the concerns, fears, and questions you may have following the Buffalo Wild Wings chemical incident which may have involved Auto-Chlor’s product SUPER 8, and took place on the evening of Thursday November 7th, 2019 in Burlington, MA.
First and foremost, our condolences are with the individual and their family as well as those affected yesterday during the incident. The safety and well-being of our customers are our first priority, always.
At this time, working with OSHA , local authorities, and emergency teams on site, we are doing everything we can to determine all details behind this incident. We appreciate your patience as we work to understand all details that led to such an unfortunate outcome.”
Christopher Huffaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 412-265-8353.