What to Know
- Buffalo Wild Wings called the incident "horrific" and said it is working with the Burlington franchise and local authorities
- Ryan Baldera, 32, was a general manager at the Buffalo Wild Wings, and said by a source to be well-liked and a new father
- The Burlington restaurant was closed Friday while cleanup crews worked, but grief counselors were on hand to help employees cope
The man who died in a chemical incident at a Buffalo Wild Wings was identified as its general manager Friday, a day after the hazardous incident caused the restaurant to be evacuated in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Ryan Baldera, a 32-year-old from Lawrence, was the man who died, Interim Burlington Fire Chief Michael Patterson said Friday. A source told had NBC10 Boston that he had a newborn child and was a "great guy loved by all at the restaurant."
"Ryan was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, and cherished uncle, nephew, and son-in-law, to his close knit family and friends," family said in a statement issued by Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where a family member is a colleague. "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."
Baldera was overcome by fumes created in a chemical reaction that involved Scale Kleen, a solution consisting primarily of acid, mixing with the cleaning product Super 8, a common cleaning product made of sodium hypochlorite, according to the Burlington Fire Department.
"We believe this was an accident," Patterson said. "We believe that the Scale Kleen, the container was spilled onto the floor accidentally and that’s how it came in contact with the Super 8."
Fire officials said the cleaners are harmless on their own but can be very dangerous if combined.
Baldera died after being rushed to a nearby hospital in serious condition, firefighters said. Thirteen other people, 11 workers and two customers, were hospitalized as well, complaining of difficulty breathing and burning eyes.
"One of the employees came over and immediately opened all the doors and that's when we started getting as much fresh air as possible at that point," a customer recalled.
Everyone injured in the incident has been released from the hospital, firefighters said Friday evening.
Several hours after the incident, Buffalo Wild Wings called it "horrific" in a statement that added the company was working with the Burlington franchise and local authorities during the investigation.
"We are shocked and saddened to learn of this horrific accident at our franchise-owned sports bar," the statement said.
The Burlington restaurant was closed Friday while cleanup crews worked, but grief counselors were on hand to help employees cope.
The incident remains under investigation, including by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An OSHA representative said it will work to see if the workplace had violated any standards, in an inspection that can take up to six months.
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The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a memorial fund for Baldera's family, according to Patterson. Anyone who would like to contribute can send a check made out to "Ryan Baldera Memorial Fund" to:
Cambridge Savings Bank
214 Cambridge St.
Burlington, MA 01803