Didion Milling says some employees back to work after explosion

Didion Milling says some employees back to work after explosion
Krystal Foust-Henschel

Didion Milling officials said some employees are back to work and others are expected to be back in about a week after last week’s explosion.

The explosion at the Didion Milling lab in Cambria on May 31 around 11 p.m. killed three people and injured 13.

“We need to rebuild,” Kurt Baird, construction and project manager with Didion Milling, said at a meeting with the Cambria Village Board on Monday night. “We want to give thanks to everyone – the village, our first responders, our fire departments, our sheriff’s department, the community at large.”

Baird said the community will start seeing a lot of demolition and a lot of debris as they rebuild the mill.

“We have a lot of things to sift through to get to the bottom of this,” Baird said.

Baird said in the short term, they are working to get the ethanol plant, the grain facility and the grain elevator, which weren’t affected by the explosion, back up and running.

Didion CEO and President Riley Didion said they are hoping to get the rest of their employees back to work in the next four to 10 days.

Baird said the company needs help from the village, including extra parking and reduced speed limits near the plant.

“We need to slow them down coming down those hills,” Baird said. “We’re bringing equipment in and bringing equipment out. Public safety is our No. 1 priority.”

“We’re going to begin the healing process,” Baird said. “We have many people that were affected and we need to begin that uphill battle. Everything worthwhile is uphill.”

Didion said as of Monday night there was no update on the people who were taken to the hospital with injuries or the investigation into what caused the explosion.

Pawel Tordoff’s body was found Friday morning, about two days after the explosion. He was 21.

Duelle Block, 27, was found dead first, shortly after midnight Thursday, about an hour after the blast. Robert Goodenow’s body was found Thursday night. Goodenow was 52.

Block was a mill operator. Goodenow was a forklift operator. Tordoff was a pack machine operator.

OSHA, the state fire marshal, the Chemical Safety Board and officials with the insurance and milling companies are at the scene investigating. An OSHA spokesperson said while they are working as quickly as possible, an investigation into the incident could take up to six months.


Culver’s, in DeForest, will donate their proceeds to the Didion Benefit Fund from sales on Tuesday from 4:30-7 p.m.

Hurts Donut, of Middleton, will be creating a special donut in honor of the Didion families. All proceeds from the donut sales from 6 a.m. until midnight on Wednesday will be donated to the Didion Benefit Fund.

Carol’s Cones and the Pardeeville Fire Department are hosting a brat fry and ice cream sale at Carol’s Cones at 215 North Main St. in Pardeeville on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Didion Benefit Fund.

The Cambria Park Committee is holding a silent auction during their June Tournament at Cambria Tarrant Park on Saturday with all proceeds from the silent auction going to the Benefit Fund. Donated items for the silent auction can be dropped off at the Cambria Village Office at 111 West Edgewater Street in Cambria.

The village of Cambria said a fund has been set up at National Exchange Bank of Cambria to be used for those affected by the explosion.

Anyone interested in making a donation to help is asked to send checks to:
Old Mill Foundation Didion Benefit Fund
National Exchange Bank
118 West Edgewater Street
P.O. Box 338
Cambria, Wisconsin 53923