Chemical reaction leaves 1 dead, several ill at Buffalo Wild Wings

Courtesy John Guilfoil Media

Firefighters arrived around 5:30 p.m. and found the worker complaining of nausea, likely from inhaling fumes in the kitchen area.

Customers told CNN affiliate WHDH that they could smell a strong chemical odor, and people closest to the kitchen began coughing and moving outside. One employee was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition and later died.

Patterson said it was not clear whether the product, a sodium hypochlorite, had been mixed with anything else. He was said to have been attempting to squeegee the product when he was overcome, according to Burlington interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson.

He could give no information about the employee who died.

The incident happened at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

Patterson added that a hazardous material team was called to the scene "in order to meter the entire restaurant" and determined the establishment to be safe.

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.

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The restaurant will remain closed until investigators complete their work.

"When he started to scrub, there was some type of chemical reaction", he says.

A statement released Thursday by a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson 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".

"Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time and believes they may be impacted by the incident should seek medical treatment immediately", the department said.

The cause of the chemical reaction and the man's death is under investigation by the police and fire departments.

Only two were said to be customers and the remainder were members of staff. The man who later died stayed behind to try to mop the cleaning solution out of the back of the restaurant, Patterson said. Workplaces that use hazardous chemicals are required to train employees on potential hazards, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is investigating the incident at Buffalo Wild Wings.

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