CAMBRIA, Wis. (AP) — Recovery crews searched a mountain of debris for two workers on Thursday following an explosion at a corn mill plant that killed at least one employee, injured about a dozen others and leveled parts of the sprawling facility in southern Wisconsin, authorities said.
Sixteen employees were working when the blast was reported around 11 p.m. Wednesday at the Didion Milling Plant in Cambria, a small community about 45 miles northeast of Madison, Columbia County Sheriff Dennis Richards said during a news conference. The plant processes corn for ethanol and other uses.
Richards said one person was killed and two people were still missing as of Thursday morning. There was no immediate word on what may have caused the blast.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison received five people injured in the blast, but hospital spokeswoman Emily Kumlien said patient privacy laws prevented her from releasing any information on their conditions. Messages left by The Associated Press at other area hospitals inquiring about explosion victims weren’t immediately returned Thursday.
Numerous fire, police and rescue agencies from the area responded to the scene, according to Cambria Village President Glen Williams. He noted that the plant, in a community of about 770 people, is an economic anchor in the area.
“Quite a few of the employees live in the village and surrounding area. So it’s going to affect the whole area. Not just the shock of the event, but the economic hardship to the families,” Williams said.
Williams said the fire was contained by early Thursday and there were no evacuations in the area. Schools in the Cambria-Friesland district closed Thursday because of the incident.
Emails sent to several company officials Thursday weren’t immediately returned. A note posted on the company’s website said the company would be closed until further notice.
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. Its corn products are used in brewing beer, making chips, breakfast cereals, bathroom moldings and steel as well as ethanol.
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