A Buffalo Wild Wings general manager died after being exposed toxic fumes from cleaning agents

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One Buffalo Wild Wings employee died and 10 others were hospitalized after they were exposed to a cleaning agent used on the kitchen floor of one of the chain's Boston-area restaurants, fire officials said.

Posted: Nov 9, 2019 7:10 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2019 7:10 AM

The general manager of a Buffalo Wild Wings in the Boston area died after two cleaning agents combined to create toxic fumes.

Firefighters responded to the restaurant in Burlington, Massachusetts, Thursday evening after reports of a chemical reaction in the kitchen. When firefighters arrived, they evacuated the building and tended to an employee who had inhaled the fumes, according to a press release from the Burlington Fire Department.

Ryan Baldera, 32, was taken to a hospital where he died. Thirteen other people -- 11 employees and two patrons -- were also hospitalized with burning eyes and difficulty breathing, the release said.

A preliminary investigation by the fire department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed another Buffalo Wild Wings employee put products Super 8 and Scale Kleen on the kitchen floor while cleaning it. The bleach and acid reacted with each other creating toxic fumes, the release said.

A manufacturer of Super 8 describes the product as a sanitizer designed for dishwashing by machine or by hand.

Burlington Interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson said he was told that Super 8 is a "common product used in floor cleaning."

"For some reason ... there was just a reaction that led to this," he said.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by the fire department and OSHA, the release said.

"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," Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement, referring all other questions to local authorities due to the ongoing investigation.

The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce set up a memorial fund for Baldera's family.

'It smelled horrible'

Customers told CNN affiliate WHDH that they could smell a strong chemical odor, and people closest to the kitchen began coughing and moving outside.

"Imagine, like, you're in the pool, but add bleach to that. It smelled horrible," Michael Burnstein told WHDH.

"I think one of the things that went through my mind is, we're sitting there, like, 'What are we supposed to do? Is everything OK? Should we even be breathing this air?'"

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