One dead in Cambria mill explosion

Courtesy Jeff Lange

Courtesy Jeff Lange

The explosion occured at the Didion Milling Corn Mill at 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration records show the plant was cited in 2011 for not taking precautions against dust explosions.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards confirmed there was an explosion at Didion Milling Plant.

Around 7 a.m. Thursday, the Cambria Fire Department called in Wisconsin Task Force One, a specialized search and rescue group, to help find two missing people.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office opened a reception center at the First Presbyterian Church located at 121 W. Florence Street in Cambria following a deadly explosion at Didion Milling late Wednesday, May 31st.

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All of the 16 employees in the plant when the explosion occurred have been accounted for.

On the other side of the lake, closer to the facility, Jeremey Blease was afraid the blast could cause another explosion at the ethanol operation, so he moved with his daughter to a relative's home farther away. "The fire was still active, firefighters were trying to get inside and get to the people that needed their assistance". Ehrhardt added that his son-in-law works at Didion Milling, but he was not working at the time of the explosion. Four were in the hospital's burn center, while the fifth was in the trauma and life support center, hospital spokeswoman Emily Kumlien said Thursday. The plant's filters lacked an explosion protective system, according to OSHA records. Recovery crews searched a mountain of debris on Thursday following a fatal explosion late Wednesday at the corn mill plant, which injured about a dozen people and leveled parts of the sprawling facility in southern Wisconsin, authorities said.

The cause of the explosion at Didion Milling in Cambria was not clear.

Didion officials didn't immediately return messages from The Associated Press on Thursday. Schools in the Cambria-Friesland district also closed Thursday because of the incident.

Didion Milling employs more than 200 people at multiple facilities around southern Wisconsin.

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Dalton knows numerous Didion Million employees and the area first responders that were called to the scene, and says it's a tragedy affecting the whole community. About a dozen others have been injured.

"We're always cooking for them, and they're always sending us new customers", Erikson said.

UPDATE: Cambria Village President Glen Williams tells our Madison affiliate WKOW-TV the fire at the Didion Milling Plant has now been contained.

More than 35 police, fire and medical service agencies responded to the explosion and subsequent fire that caused a portion of the building to collapse.

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