Wisconsin mill that exploded had been reprimanded on safety


Sixteen employees were working when the blast was reported around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday.

One of the two people missing after a corn mill explosion in Cambria has been found dead, the Columbia County Sheriff confirmed.

The cause of the blast remained unknown as of Thursday afternoon, Didion officials said. It said two people were treated and released and 12 others.

Glen Williams, president of the Village of Cambria, said the "three- to four-story structure" has been destroyed.

The sight of the flames and commotion surrounding the crew at the scene trying to rescue the 16 employees inside the facility is something Ramirez said she'll never forget, and although a somber time for her village, she hopes those suffering find solace in the community coming together.

The Cambria-Friesland School District canceled classes Thursday.

"Several of our team members are involved in this community", said the company's president, Riley Didion.

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"It's hard to see families struggling", he said. The company stores, mills and transports corn products, and specializes in ethanol production, according to Didion Milling's website and LinkedIn page. Village officials said later Thursday afternoon 17 employees were inside.

The village of Cambria said in a news release Thursday that people plan to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church to pray for victims of the explosion and fire at the Didion Milling Plant.

The company faced fines from OSHA in 2011 for failing to install equipment to protect workers from dust that can ignite and explode. It was unclear whether the blast occurred in that part of the facility.

According to OSHA records uncovered by WISCTV News 3 reporter Chris Gothner, Didion Milling had previously been cited for "serious" safety violations as recently as 2011.

He noted that the plant, in a community of about 770 people, is an economic anchor for the area.

Columbia County sheriff's officials say the explosion and fire at the Didion Milling Plant killed at least one person and injured about a dozen others.

In 2008, Didion Ethanol completed construction on a state-of-the-art, 40 million gallon-per-year ethanol plant, which is able to use the byproduct of the corn milling process to create ethanol more efficiently. Ehrhardt added that his son-in-law works at Didion Milling, but he was not working at the time of the explosion.