1 dead, 10 hospitalized after toxic chemical exposure at Mass. Buffalo Wild Wings
A hazmat team responded to the restaurant Thursday night after fumes from a cleaning product began causing nausea and breathing problems
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.
BURLINGTON, Mass. — An employee at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant died Thursday night after inhaling toxic fumes from a strong cleaning agent while at work and at least 10 other people are being treated for exposure.
The fire department responded to the restaurant on South Avenue shortly after 5:30 p.m. for what is being called a “serious hazardous material incident," Interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson said.
When firefighters arrived they found a male employee who was suffering from nausea after he breathed in fumes from the cleaning agent. He was in serious condition and was taken by Burlington Ambulance to Leahy Hospital where he later died, he said.
A second victim has been taken to Lowell Hospital by Armstrong Ambulance and at least nine other people who were exposed to the fumes, have driven themselves into the hospital, Patterson said.
Two of the victims were customers and eight are employees. They are having difficulty breathing and problems with watering eyes and are being given oxygen and being monitored. Patterson said he does not believe any of them are in serious condition.
Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time and believes they may have been exposed to the chemical should seek medical treatment immediately, Patterson said.
The incident began when one employee opened a container of a cleaning agent called Super 8, which has the chemical sodium hypochlorite, or highly-concentrated chlorine, to prepare to mop the floors. That employee immediately felt ill and went outside to get fresh air, he said.
“The gentleman who passed away was an employee of Buffalo Wild Wings who attempted to squeegee the product out of the building and he was overcome,” Patterson said.
He could give no information about the employee who died.
Firefighters evacuated the suburban Boston restaurant and called for a Tier 1 hazardous material response. The State Hazardous Materials Team responded and several team members have since entered the restaurant wearing specialized suits. They tested the air and have found it to be safe, he said.
“This is a product we have been told is a common product for floor cleaning. For some reason tonight it was just ... a reaction that led to this,” he said.
Patterson said he does not know if the chemical had been mixed with something else.
The cause of the chemical reaction and the man’s death are under investigation by the police and fire departments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the incident, he said.
The restaurant will remain closed until investigators complete their work.
©2019 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)