2 dead, 1 missing after milling plant explosion in Wisconsin

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According to information released by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the explosion occurred at Didion Milling facility at approximately 11:00 p.m. on May 31.

The sheriff's department and fire department were working with Didion Milling to determine what caused the blast.

A sheriff says a second person has been killed in a corn mill explosion in southern Wisconsin as crews continue to search the debris for a third person still missing.

The cause of the explosion at Didion Milling in Cambria was not clear. Goodenow's body was recovered late Thursday and Tordoff's body was found Friday morning.

The first victim was found a short time after the May 31 explosion. Another body was recovered Thursday.

In July 2006, the Cambria Village Board objected, in a letter to the county, to Didion's request for rezoning and a conditional use permit to build a 40-million-gallon ethanol operation in the town of Courtland, just across Cabbage Road from the milling plant, which is located in the village limits.

Other employees were taken to a hospital in Beaver Dam. The cause of the incident remains under investigation, which will include a safety assessment by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

At a news conference Thursday evening, Cambria Fire Chief Cody Doucette said a smaller fire occurred in a different part of the facility on Monday.

In the last 35 years, more than 500 grain dust explosions have been recorded at grain handling facilities in the USA, killing more than 180 people and injuring more than 675, according to OSHA. OSHA investigators are investigating the latest fire. A Didion family spokesman says their teams are very close and they're asking for prayers for the workers and their families. A review of online OSHA records shows the plant was cited in January 2011 for exposing its workers to dust explosion hazards.

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

The agency ordered the mill to correct the problem by April 2011.

William lives about four blocks from the plant and heard the explosion. Clark's statement didn't address the past citation. "A big explosion happened, then everything just collapsed", a Didion employee, Nayeli Hernandez said in an interview with television news station WISC.

Emails sent to several company officials Thursday and a voicemail left for Vice President of Sales Jeff Dillon weren't immediately returned.

The company has closed until further notice, but Clark said Friday all the plant workers will keep their jobs.

Crews plan to search through the night Thursday to find the one remaining missing person. Eleven were taken to hospitals. Media reports also stated that firefighters had responded to a separate fire at the facility two days before Wednesday's blast.

Cambria Village President Glen Williams said the fire was contained by early morning, June 1, but he said the building was destroyed. There were no evacuations in the area, he said, and there's no threat from chemicals or fumes that he's aware of. Schools in the Cambria-Friesland district were closed Thursday as a precaution, but classes were set to resume Friday with counselors on hand for students, Superintendent Timothy Raymond said.

"Quite a few of the employees live in the village and surrounding area".

"It's hard to see families struggling", he said.

The company employs more than 200 people. The company stores, mills and transports corn products, and specializes in ethanol production, according to Didion Milling's website and LinkedIn page.

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