6/3/17 – Three people have now been confirmed dead in the explosion at the Didion Milling plant in Cambria. The facility was leveled by an explosion Wednesday evening. Didion Vice President of Operations Derek Clark released the names at a press conference Friday afternoon at Didion’s offices in Johnson Creek. Duelle Block, a mill operator, was the first to be found just after midnight on Thursday morning. The body of Robert Goodenow, a forklift operator, was found Thursday evening. Friday morning rescuers discovered Pawel Tordoff, a pack operator with Didion. The ages and hometowns were not immediately made available as Didion officials say the incident took down their servers. Clark says the “loss of the three team members is very emotional for everyone and really torn a hole in the heart of the Didion Milling team and the Cambria community.” He says they are also deeply concerned about the eleven people hospitalized. In support of those affected, on-site counseling has been established and an employee assistance program has been expanded.
The State Fire Marshalls Office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the US Chemical Safety Board are gathering information and Didion has also launched its own internal investigation. Clark says the cause and the source of the fire remain unknown. There are multiple departments and milling operations inside the facility and he says given the scale of the damage it is tough to assess what started where. He says that officials are working to collect that information and piece it together but it is just to early to comment on any potential sources. Clark notes that smoking is not allowed in the plant and is quarantined to specific areas.
There was a fire at the plant on Monday but Clark says the two incidents are not related and the cause is still being determined. He says that determination was made by their internal safety department in conjunction with the fire department. When asked what they determined Clark said “I am not necessarily going to go into the cause of the root details of that incident but I can tell you they’re unrelated.” He then said there is a general idea of what happened on Monday but the two incidents involved “distinctly separate systems.”
A fund has been established for the victims of the explosion. The fund is through the National Exchange Bank of Cambria, PO Box 338 care of the Old Mill Foundation Didion Benefit Fund. Village officials say the money will go directly to assisting those affected.
Listen to Friday’s press conference here: