UPDATE: Third Cambria explosion victim found, all three identifi - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Third Cambria explosion victim found, all three identified

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Courtesy: Jeff Lange Courtesy: Jeff Lange
Courtesy: Jeff Lange Courtesy: Jeff Lange
Courtesy: Jeff Lange Courtesy: Jeff Lange

UPDATE (WKOW) -- Rescuers have found the final worker unaccounted for after an explosion at a Cambria milling/ethanol plant Wednesday night. They say Pawel Tordoff was found Friday morning by rescue teams with the help of a search dog.

Tordoff becomes the third person confirmed dead after the explosion and fire at Didion Milling. Duelle Block and Robert Goodenow were the two previously found.

“It's a really emotional time for us as I'm sure you can possibly imagine,” said Didion Vice President of Operations Derrick Clark. “The loss of these 3 teams members is a very emotional incident for us. And really torn a hole in the heart of the Didion Milling team and the Cambria community."

Representatives of Didion identified the three men at a Friday afternoon news conference. At the same news conference, the said the cause of the fire is still not known, adding that they are doing their own investigation in addition to helping federal investigators.

“I promise, you don't want to get to the root cause of this more than we do. But we're not here to pre-suppose what happened,” Clark said.

The company says it's unclear when the facility in Cambria will resume production, but they think the ethanol operation will be up and running in the near future. They also said they intend to find work for their Cambria employees while their plant is closed.

The company representatives also addressed questions about a reported fire on Monday, saying that fire was completely unrelated to Wednesday night's explosion. They also addressed past OSHA safety violations for which the company was cited in 2011. 

James Brunker with M3 Insurance, who was identified as a risk manager at the news conference, claimed the company had made great strides toward improved safety since the 2011 issues.

“For something like this to happen to somebody that cares about safety so much and so deeply, and is so proactive. It's unbelievable," said Brunker. "It's surreal.”

Clark added that his message to people about the past violations would be, "The catastrophic nature of this event in no way represents the journey and cultural change that has existed, just even in my short time there. You had a substantial, I would say, upgrade to both the personnel and expectations as we worked through some of those previous incidents.”


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Even though crews spent all night searching for another person missing after the plant explosion, they are no closer to finding them.

Emergency crews told 27 News Friday morning, as of 5:30 a.m., the second person missing still hasn't been found. Rescuers have been at the site of the Didion Milling Plant overnight and will continue to stay there until they find the employee they're looking for.

They have been using cranes to move debris and search dogs in their efforts.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Authorities say they have found dead one of the two missing Didion Milling employees.

Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards says searchers found the person around 5:55 p.m. Thursday.

The search continues for the remaining person and will continue through the night.

Richards says the search is going slowly because the structure of the building is dangerous. He says they've had up to four different engineers watching the building itself as rescuers scour through the rubble. Richards says they still have cranes on site to move some debris and search dogs are helping.

The sheriff says it has been difficult on a personal level to know they may be just feet from someone who might be buried, but because of the danger posed by the structure, rescuers may not even know where that person is and that they might not be able to get to that person.

Cambria fire chief Cody Doucette was one of the first people at the site after the explosion. He said it was devastating to see. "We train every day. We train for the worst. This was the worst that... worse than anything that I could ever imagine," Doucette said Thursday night. "When you pull up to a scene like that, that's something that you never expect to see. And I hope to God that I never have to see it again in my life and I hope no one else does."

Sheriff Richards says they have not yet determined the cause of the explosion.

Doucette confirmed there was a smaller fire in a different part of the milling plant on Monday. Doucette says investigators are trying to determine if there was a connection between the fires. 

Both Richards and Doucette praised the people of Cambria for their response to the explosion. "Cambria has a lot to be proud of. We wish we weren't here for this reason, but it's just proof that something good comes out of something horrible, " Richards said.  

"Because of the dedication and the heart that this community and this area has, it was proven today. Cambria may be small in size, but it has an unbelievable heart," Doucette said.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- According to the Red Cross, there will be a prayer vigil held tonight in Cambria.

The First Presbyterian Church is hosting the vigil at 7:00 p.m. For those who want to be with the community to offer support and help those cope, the vigil will be held at 121 W. Florence Street.

Also available are licensed mental health professionals on site to support the wide-range of emotions people are experiencing. The church will remain open until 10:00 tonight and reopen at 9:00 Friday morning. Food, beverages and emotional support will all be available.

Classes at the Cambria-Friesland School District will resume Friday morning, with graduation happening as scheduled.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Village of Cambria has corrected it's previous update to the number of workers impacted by the explosion. The village says 16 people were involved: 1 killed, 2 missing, 2 treated at the scene and 11 hospitalized.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Village of Cambria says with the recent event at Didion Milling, there is a need for funds to help the victims and their families.

Old Mill Foundation has now set up a fund at the National Exchange Bank of Cambria. Anyone interested in making a donation to help, you can send checks to:

Old Mill Foundation Didion Benefit Fund                                                                                                                                                                  C/O National Exchange Bank                                                                                                                                                                                118 West Edgewater Street                                                                                                                                                                                    P.O. Box 338                                                                                                                                                                                               Cambria, Wisconsin 53923

All funds go directly to assisting those affected.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Didion Milling has released a statement regarding the plant explosion in Cambria, reiterating what President Riley Didion said during a news conference early Thursday morning:

On May 31 at approximately 11 p.m., an explosion occurred at our milling operations located in Cambria, Wisconsin. The cause of the explosion is not known.

At this time, the safety and security of our employees is our top priority. The injured employees have been transported to local hospitals. First responders report one fatality, and there are two employees missing. We cannot release names at this time.

Over the past 44 years, the Didion team has grown to be a close knit family, and we ask for your prayers during this difficult time. Didion continues to work with local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services, and we are grateful for their support.

We will continue to update you as we learn more.

Derrick Clark

Vice President of Operations

Didion Milling


UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Village of Cambria is updating its information regarding the plant explosion at Didion Milling.

Authorities now say 17 employees were in the facility at the time of the blast. Two of them were treated and released, while 12 employees were transported to area hospitals by either ambulance, Med Flight or Flight for Life helicopters. One person was killed and two are believed to still be missing.

The explosion and resulting fire did significant damage to buildings and structures on site.

The Cambria Fire Department is still on site as of 11:45 a.m. They were assisted by nearly two-dozen other fire departments, eight EMS services, four police departments, county and state departments as well as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Anyone who wants to offer assistance or supplies can contact the Cambria Village Office at (920) 348-5443.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- UW Hospital in Madison says four of its five patients from the explosion in Cambria are in the burn center.

More than a dozen people were injured in the explosion at the Didion Milling Plant in Columbia County late Wednesday night. One person was killed and crews are still searching for two employees who are missing.

UW Hospital spokesperson Emily Kumlien says five patients were take to UW Hospital. Four of them are in the burn center and the other one is in the trauma and life support center.

Beaver Dam Community Hospital also confirms they received individuals involved in the explosion, however, they are not releasing any further information.

The Columbia County Sheriff says a total of 16 employees were at the plant at the time. Two people were able to escape without being injured. The 14 others include the person killed, the two employees still missing and 11 others who were transported to area hospitals.

Authorities could not tell us which hospitals the rest of the patients went at this time.

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are helping the families of the victims


UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has issued alternate routes around the scene of an explosion in Cambria.

They say all lanes of State Highway 146, both directions, are blocked at Cemetery Road. Authorities say northbound traffic should take Highway 16 to US 151 to Highway 73. Then take 73 to Highway 33 west back to 146. Southbound traffic should reverse these directions.

UW Hospital has confirmed with 27 News they are treating five patients from the explosion. Those five people were airlifted to the hospital. No word on their conditions.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards more than a dozen people were injured and at least one person was killed in an explosion in Cambria.

There were at least 16 employees working at the time at Didion Milling plant. Two were able to get out safely and the others were not. The sheriff says there are also two known employees still missing at this point.

Crews are still trying to determine how secure the building is. A Didion family spokesman says their teams are very close and they're asking for prayers for the workers and their families.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Cambria Village President Glen Williams tells 27 News the fire at the Didion Milling Plant has now been contained. There were no evacuations in the area and Williams says there is no threat from chemicals or fumes that he is aware of.

Williams says the plant runs 24 hours a day and there were people working at the plant at the time of the explosion, but at this point, he did not have details on how many employees were on site.

He says the Didion Milling plant processes corn and byproducts for industries all over the world. 

"It's going to be a big blow the community. Both with the shock of the situation and economically. There will be a lot of people who are going to struggle with employment at least for the time being until they can get the plant running again," Williams said.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards confirms there was an explosion at the Didion Milling plant in Cambria.

"It's a large three or four story building that doesn't exist anymore," Cambria Village President Glen Williams said about the rubble.

"We've had multiple fire departments, ambulances from numerous communities, multiple Medflights," Williams said.

Richards says families are being asked to go to the Cambria Highway Shop at 119 E. Second Street while the search continues for missing loved ones.

Cambria Village President Glen Williams says the call came in around 11 p.m. and shook the community.

"I don't want to say it sounded like a sonic boom.... but it was loud, a startling sound" Williams said about the noise.  "The power went out immediately, so it got the attention of everyone, everywhere," he added.

"We're just getting to the point that Salvation Army and Red Cross has arrived," Williams said.

Williams says the community is being urged to stay away from the scene and he does not know whether school later this morning will be impacted by the explosion.

Cambria Community Ambulance Service says multiple burn injuries have been reported. It says more than three medevac flights have been sent to the scene.

The state Department of Transportation says the north and southbound lanes of Highway 146 between Highway 33 and Highway 16 are closed.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Dispatchers in Columbia County say they received a report about an explosion at the Didion Milling plant in Cambria.

According to the Didion website, the facility on Highway 146 in Cambria is an ethanol plant.

Firefighters from the Cambria Fire Department have not confirmed there was an explosion, but have told 27 News to tell everyone to stay away from Highway146.

The Madison Fire Department tells 27 News it is sending its rescue team to the scene.  The Dodge County Sheriff's Office also confirms it has deputies providing traffic assistance in the Cambria area.


CAMBRIA (WKOW) -- Alliant Energy is reporting multiple power outages in the Columbia County village of Cambria.

The company's website shows at least 15 outages in the village, adding up to at least 130 customers. The website does not list a cause of the outages.

27 News reached out to the Cambria Fire Department about the cause of the outages, but were only told that we should tell people to stay away from Highway 146.

27 News is following this developing story and we'll continue to post updates as we get them.

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