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Missing person found dead after explosion at Wis. mill

02 June 2017

Along with dry corn mill, the plant also makes ethanol.

Police said one person was killed and two people were still missing as of Thursday morning.

An email sent to the Associated Press by Vice President of Operations Derrick Clark at Didion said the cause of the blast remains unclear and affirmed the company's cooperation with local authorities.

About 16 workers were at the multi-level facility, although two of them made it out unharmed, Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards told reporters early Thursday. There was no immediate word on what may have caused the blast. There were no evacuations in the area, he said, and there's no threat from chemicals or fumes that he's aware of.

Thirty-seven agencies were responding to the blast, Richards said.

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Cambria is a community of about 770 people.

Sixteen employees were in the facility at the time, a spokeswoman for the Village of Cambria said.

"Heard it, felt it - and then the whole town went dark", Haldemann said.

Multiple fire departments and more than four helicopters were called to the Didion Milling plant in the 500 block of Williams Street at 11pm, but rescuers struggled to get into the burning building.

"I'll be honest, when you pull up to a scene like that, that's something you never expect to see and I hope to God that I never have to see it again in my life", said Cambria Fire Chief Cody Doucette.

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The company employs more than 200 people.

The corn mill was cited by federal safety investigators six years ago for exposing workers to dust explosion hazards.

In 2008, Didion Milling completed the construction of the ethanol plant that sits adjacent to the corn mill in Cambria.

The facility is an ethanol plant, according to the company's website. "That way, it makes it a lot more unsafe for us, because we don't spend as much time honing our skills".

In this image taken from a video by WISN-TV, the rubble of a corn mill plant following an explosion is seen, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in Cambria, Wis.

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