Wisconsin mill that exploded had been reprimanded on safety

Elias Hubbard
June 2, 2017

An explosion in a Cambria, Wis., corn mill killed one person, injured 11 and left two people missing, Columbia County officials said.

"Sixteen employees were working at the time, two were able to leave and refused medical treatment", said Dennis Richards, Columbia County sheriff, following the explosion on May 31. He added that the mill processes corn and corn by-products for ethanol plants, but the explosion occurred across the street from Didion's ethanol manufacturing facility.

Five of the injured were airlifted Wednesday night to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, UW Hospital spokeswoman Emily Kumlien said.

Glen Williams, village president of the Cambria, told WKOW-TV that the fire was contained by early Thursday morning.

One woman, Cathy Royt, said when she walked outside after hearing the explosion, the whole area was pitch black.

CAMBRIA-Some residents shaken by the Didion Milling explosion late Wednesday gathered in a prayer vigil at First Presbyterian Church, 121 W. Florence St., Cambria, Thursday evening. Richards also said the cause of the explosion remains unknown. It was unclear on Thursday whether the blast occurred in that part of the facility.

Sheriff Richards initially said 16 people were in the plant. A review of online OSHA records shows the plant was cited in January 2011 for exposing its workers to dust explosion hazards.

A three-story building collapsed in the explosion at Didion Milling in Cambria. The records don't clearly indicate whether the company complied but the case was closed in September 2013. The ethanol plant has been operational for almost a decade. Raymond says his district and surrounding districts plan to coordinate on supplying counselors if students need them on Friday.

According to the company's website, brothers John and Dow Didion began Didion Milling in 1972 and construction on the Cambria corn mill was completed in 1991.

Emails sent to several company officials Thursday weren't immediately returned.

In April 2007, village of Cambria voters approved a nonbinding referendum, which asked whether the village would negotiate a developer's agreement regarding the ethanol plant.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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