WI Mill Blast Claims Third Victim

The body of a third worker has been recovered from the ruins of a corn mill that exploded in southern Wisconsin, and company executives insisted safety violations were corrected years ago.

The explosion occurred late Wednesday night at the Didion Milling Plant in Cambria, a rural village about 45 miles northeast of Madison. The blast leveled most of the plant. Dozens of area police, fire and rescue agencies – including medical flight crews – responded after the explosion was reported around 11 p.m. Wednesday at the facility.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration records show the plant was cited in 2011 for not taking precautions against dust explosions. They can occur when high concentrations of dust particles are suspended in the air in a confined space during grain handling. A spark from something like a cigarette butt ignites it, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sixteen people were inside the plant at the time of the explosion. Eleven were taken to hospitals. 5 workers remain hospitalized.

There were five grain dust explosions in the United States previous year and two of the incidents resulted in fatalities, Purdue University said in an annual report.

Didion Milling Plant executive Derrick Clark told reporters during a news conference Friday afternoon that emergency crews recovered packing machine operator Pawel Tordoff’s body from the rubble earlier that morning.

Searchers recovered forklift driver Robert Goodenow’s body Thursday evening and found mill operator Duelle Block dead shortly after the explosion.

Didion Milling employs more than 200 people at multiple facilities around southern Wisconsin. Most of them work at the Cambria corn mill plant.