A worker died Thursday in a chemical incident at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Burlington, Massachusetts. Ten other people were sickened.
Interim Burlington Fire Chief Michael Patterson said Super 8, a common sanitation product, was being used to clean the floor when people inside the restaurant became sick. Fire crews responded around 5:30 p.m. to find a male worker who was nauseous after inhaling fumes from the cleaning agent. He was taken in serious condition to Lahey Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
A Tier 1 hazardous materials incident was declared and the building was evacuated. The restaurant was closed for the night.
Another worker had applied the cleaning solution and went out into the fresh air after being exposed. The victim who died was trying to squeegee the substance out of the restaurant when he was overcome by the fumes, Patterson said.
Nine other patients drove themselves to Lahey Hospital, and another was going to a Lowell hospital, according to Patterson. While they have been placed on oxygen, Patterson said none of the patients besides the man who died were in serious condition.
Two customers were transported; the rest of the patients are employees. Their symptoms include runny and watery eyes and shortness of breath.
Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time and has any concerns is urged to seek immediate medical attention.
"We were just sitting at the bar, and kind of the smell of, like, ammonia and chlorine came over us, and a bunch of people started coughing," said Jim Jorefice, who was inside the restaurant with some coworkers at the time.
The three men said they asked a restaurant employee if everything was OK and were told some chemicals had spilled in the kitchen.
"At first, I just thought it was the dishwasher, someone poured some chemicals down, but then, it got stronger and stronger," Jorefice said.
Eventually, they moved to a window employees had opened. Then, firefighters arrived in gas masks and told them to leave the restaurant immediately.
Super 8, a sodium hypochlorite, is frequently used in sanitation.
"This is a product that we've been told is a common product used in floor cleaning," Patterson said. "For some reason tonight, there was just a reaction that led to this."
Patterson added that crews were not sure whether the product had been mixed with anything else.
As of 10 p.m., Patterson said most of the solution had evaporated, but that the restaurant's management team would need to make sure any residual product was cleaned up.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been made aware of the case, fire officials 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.
The investigation is ongoing.