The Buffalo Wild Wings general manager who died Thursday night in Burlington after inhaling lethal mix of cleaning agent fumes had swooped in to clean up the mess himself after it sickened one of his workers, an employee and authorities said.
The manager was identified by authorities as Ryan Baldera, 32, of Lawrence. Stunned workers and regulars remembered him Friday as a take-charge leader as the restaurant filled with dangerous fumes.
“The air was like vaping bleach,” said employee Sophie Carrier. “There was a lot of screaming and crying. I came outside, and Ryan was alive as ever. He was calling to people, taking action to keep people from going back inside. It was like a mom puppy making sure all of her puppies are safe. The glue that kept us together tried to save our lives.”
“Yesterday was a prime example of who he was,” said Hemant Acharya, a 24-year-old customer from Bedford. “He put his co-workers before himself.”
Firefighters helped evacuate the building, and two customers and 12 workers were treated at Lahey Hospital in Burlington and a Lowell-area hospital after a 5:36 p.m. report of a chemical reaction in the kitchen area, Interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson said.
Baldera was pronounced dead Thursday night, Patterson said. He leaves behind a wife and infant child, according to news reports. The others who were exposed were all released as of Friday morning.
The incident occurred when one worker put a cleaning product called Super 8 — sodium hypochlorite — on the floor without realizing that another product, Scale Kleen, predominantly composed of acid, had tipped over and spilled onto the floor, Patterson said.
“These two products are often used,” he said, “but when they become mixed, that’s when the problem occurs.”
The worker told firefighters the product turned green and began to bubble, Patterson said, and he immediately stepped outside because his eyes began to burn.
“The general manager unfortunately grabbed a squeegee and tried to push it outside, but he was quickly overcome,” the chief said. “He began having problems breathing.”
An employee who gave his name only as John said, “There was a burning feeling; it hit us immediately. I thought: ‘Get out of the building.’ I ran out the front door. … Our manager was having problems breathing. I called 911 twice. Ryan had very bad asthma.”
The restaurant was closed yesterday and will reopen after the Burlington Board of Health inspects it and gives the OK, Patterson said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has been notified of the incident. Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement that it was referring questions to local authorities.
Baldera, 32, had worked at the restaurant for less than a year, John said.
“He’s a good father and a good man,” Carrier said. “He cared about everyone he spoke to. If I would get an entire order wrong, he was the first person to make me feel better instead of shaming me.”
The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a fund for Baldera’s family. Donations may be sent to the Ryan …read more
Source:: Boston Herald