CAMBRIA, Wis (WISC) Didion Milling released a statement Sunday afternoon that the local fire department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office have recovered the body of a worker killed in the plant explosion Wednesday night.
Didion Milling said safety engineers recovered the body of 21-year-old Pawel Tordoff. His body was originally found Friday morning, but authorities delayed sending rescue personnel into the site until it was safe to make the recovery, the company said.
Tordoff was a pack machine operator.
In a statement, Didion Milling said, “Please pray for the Tordoff family and our team as we grieve the loss of Pawel together.”
Village of Cambria thankful for community support
The village of Cambria is thanking community members for their generosity and following the explosion at the mill.
In a press release Sunday, they called the response “heartwarming” and “overwhelming.”
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 St.
P.O. Box 338
Cambria, WI 53923
In the press release, the village of Cambria announced several upcoming fundraisers for families of the victims. Here are the details:
Tuesday, June 6
The DeForest FFA Alumni is donating all proceeds from their Culver’s Scoopie Night fundraiser to the benefit fund for victims of the explosion. They said in a Facebook event posting that, “Didion has been a long time supporter of our Family Fund Night Fundraiser and it’s now our turn to help them out in their desperate time of need.” The event is Tuesday, June 6 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Culver’s on 4910 County Road V in DeForest.
Saturday, June 10
The Cambria Park Committee is holding a silent auction during its June Tournament at Cambria Tarrant Park 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 St., Cambria.
Saturday, June 24
Don Klug, of the Columbus Pick ‘n Save, has volunteered to cater a benefit meal Saturday, June 24 from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Cambria-Friesland School at 410 East Edgewater St. The Cambria Kiwanis Club and Cambria-Friesland School District will assist with set up, serving and cleanup. This will be a two-piece chicken dinner with coleslaw, potato wedges, potato salad, beverage and cookie for a minimum $5 donation. All proceeds will go the benefit fund.
Cheryl Jarvis, of Waukesha, contacted David Scrima of T-Shirt International, who has donated 500 T-shirts. They are still finalizing the design but the design will include the slogan “Cambria has Heart.” When available, the shirts will be sold for $20 apiece, producing $10,000 for the benefit fund if all 500 are sold. An announcement will be made when the T-shirts are available.
The First Presbyterian Church Food Pantry is collecting items for the families of Didion Milling. Items most needed are: diapers, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, paper towels, detergent and gas cards. Small and medium-sized boxes for packing food and goods in are also needed.
Rhonda Perry, of West Bend, is having a Kringle Sale for two weeks and will donate all proceeds to the benefit fund.
Details on the explosion
A third person was confirmed dead Friday in connection to the Didion Milling explosion in Cambria Wednesday night, a company official said.
Vice President of Operations Derrick Clark said one of the workers who had been missing since an explosion destroyed the corn mill was found Friday morning in the rubble with the help of a K-9 unit.
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.There were 16 people working at the time of the blast: 13 were injured, 11 of them taken to the hospital by helicopter or ambulance. Two people were treated at the scene and released.
Block was a mill operator. Goodenow was a forklift operator. Tordoff was a pack machine operator.
“The loss of these three team members is a very emotional incident for us and tore a hole in the heart of the Didion Milling team and the Cambria community,” Clark said.
Clark and Didion’s insurance company representative, Jim Brunker from M3 Insurance, spoke to the media at 1 p.m. Friday from Didion headquarters in Johnson Creek.
Clark said the company is working with authorities and the cause for the explosion is still under investigation.
“The cause is unknown, and so is the source of the incident,” Clark said. “We have multiple departments and units going on in the milling facility, so given the scale of the damage it’s really tough to assess what started where.”
OSHA, the state fire marshal, the Chemical Safety Board and officials with the insurance and milling companies are on 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.
Didion Milling was cited in 2011 for the risk of dust explosions, but OSHA hasn’t been back since 2014.
The company’s insurer said their internal workers compensation claims showed they were getting safer every year.
“Of all my customers I’ve worked with in all my years, for something like this to happen to someone who cares about safety so much and so deeply and is proactive, it’s unbelievable. It’s surreal,” M3 Insurance spokesperson Jim Brunker said.
The 2011 incident was resolved, and company officials insisted their facility had a number of changes since the violation, including to personnel and policy.
A fire two days before the explosion at the Didion plant was unrelated to Wednesday’s explosion, Clark said.
Company officials did not have updates on the other 11 employees who were injured.
Company officials said they are still paying the employees who work at the plant through an insurance policy, and they do plan on rebuilding the facility.
A friend of Block’s family has established a GoFundMe campaign in his name.
The Red Cross said a sufficient blood supply is available to help the victims of the explosion, but anyone who is interested in donating blood can visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.