One Buffalo Wild Wings employee died and 10 workers and patrons were sickened after being exposed to a cleaning agent at a Massachusetts location on Thursday evening, the authorities said.
The fire department in Burlington, about 12 miles northwest of Boston, responded to calls at the restaurant and found a man outside being treated by paramedics, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Patterson said at a news conference on Thursday.
“The gentleman that passed away was an employee of Buffalo Wild Wings who attempted to squeegee the product out of the building when he was overcome,” the chief said.
The man, who has not been identified, died after being taken to a hospital, Chief Patterson said. An exact cause of death was not given.
“What we believed happened was a worker at Buffalo Wild Wings used a cleaning agent on the floor,” Chief Patterson said. “The cleaning agent is called Super 8.”
Super 8 is a low-temperature sodium hypochlorite solution registered with the Environmental Protection Agency that is used as a sanitizer in the food processing and food service industry, according to Auto-Chlor System, a company that provides cleaning products and services to commercial kitchens and laundry and housekeeping operations.
After the product was released at the restaurant, 10 other people, including two patrons, “became sick” with symptoms of difficulty breathing and runny, watery eyes, Chief Patterson said, adding that the additional victims had transported themselves to a hospital.
The Burlington Fire Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday morning about the victims’ conditions.
The incident occurred when an employee prepared to clean the kitchen floor and was exposed to the chemical, Chief Patterson said. That person, who the authorities say was not the worker who died, exited the area to receive fresh air.
State workers who specialize in dealing with hazardous materials were called to the scene, the chief said. An investigation into the incident is continuing.
The restaurant will eventually be turned over to its management, which will have to remove any residual cleaning agent, but “most of the product, I will say, is evaporated,” Chief Patterson said.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of this tragic accident at our franchise-owned sports bar and are working closely with our franchisee and the authorities while they conduct an investigation,” a spokeswoman for Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement on Friday.
The restaurant chain did not respond to questions about whether it planned to review its cleaning products and procedures.
This week, the chain announced that it had fired two managers at a location in Illinois after a patron said the managers had asked for a group that included black diners to move because another customer in the restaurant was racist.
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