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Buffalo Wild Wings reopens after manager is killed in chemical accident

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a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Ryan Baldera Buffalo Wild Wings Burlington

Ryan Baldera Buffalo Wild Wings Burlington
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The Buffalo Wild Wings in Burlington reopened late Saturday morning after its general manager died Thursday evening in an accident involving cleaning chemicals, according to restaurant representatives.

Ryan Baldera, 32, was overcome by the fumes and died after being rushed to Lahey Hospital, according to the Burlington Fire Department.

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Representatives of the Buffalo Wild Wings told Josh Brogadir, of NewsCenter 5, that the restaurant would reopen at 11 a.m. Saturday.

"When I heard they were opening, I wanted to come here and pay my respects," said customer Keith Currier. "He was a good guy. He always took care of his workers, always made sure they came first."

A friend told NewsCenter 5 that Baldera was married last year and was the father of a newborn baby.

His family described him as a "beloved husband, father, son, brother, and cherished uncle, nephew, and son-in-law to his close knit family and friends" in a statement they released Friday night.

"While devastated at this unimaginable loss, we are so very proud that Ryan died while trying to protect his fellow employees and restaurant patrons," the family wrote. "Our family asks for the public and the media to respect our privacy while we mourn Ryan’s untimely death."

Matt Reed, of NewsCenter 5, took a photo of a heartfelt message that was posted to the front door of the restaurant on Saturday.

"My heartfelt prayers to his wife and child; family, friends and co-workers. To all at Buffalo Wild Wings, stay strong, may comfort find you," the message reads.

"To his wife, I too lost my partner three years ago -- too soon. He was a hardworking good soul too. My heart goes out to you! I know his memories will live on in all your hearts. Love is eternal. He will be honored. God bless you."

The accident happened sometime before 6 p.m. at the restaurant off South Avenue, across from the Burlington Mall.

Interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson said a cleaning product called Scale Kleen was knocked over while another product, Super 8, was already on the floor. The two mixed, causing a chemical reaction with noxious fumes.

The restaurant was evacuated, but not before several people reported smelling the odor.

Twelve people checked themselves into Lahey Hospital and a 13th person self-checked into a Lowell-area hospital Thursday night with symptoms including difficulty breathing and burning feelings in the eyes. All of the patients have since been released from the hospital.

"We were here 10 minutes before it all went down," Currier said. "My wife was at Lahey later on. It smelled like really strong bleach."

Patterson said one worker who first prepared the floor to be cleaned was immediately exposed to the fumes, but quickly left the area to get fresh air.

"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," Patterson said.

In an interview Friday, Patterson reiterated that the incident was a tragic accident.

"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. "Because the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to share any additional comment at this time."

Following his death, the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce has set up a memorial fund for Baldera's family. Those who would like to contribute to the fund can send a check payable to the "Ryan Baldera Memorial Fund" to:

Cambridge Savings Bank

214 Cambridge St.

Burlington, MA 01803

A donation to the memorial fund can also be made via GoFundMe by clicking this link.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the incident and a spokesman said the agency would respond.

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