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Fourth Didion Milling worker dies after explosion that destroyed Cambria plant |

Fourth Didion Milling worker dies after explosion that destroyed Cambria plant


A fourth employee has died as a result of the May 31 explosion that destroyed the Didion Milling Plant in Cambria, company officials said Tuesday.

Angel Reyes, a 46-year-old pack operator, died at UW Hospital on Tuesday morning from injuries he suffered in the explosion, the company said.

At least four employees injured in the blast remained hospitalized Tuesday evening. UW Hospital spokesman Gian Galassi said three are in the hospital’s burn unit, and one is in the Trauma and Life Support Center.

The bodies of three other employees were recovered from the rubble: Duelle Block, 27; Robert Goodenow, 53; and Pawel Tordoff, 21.

Didion Vice President of Operations Derrick Clark said 11 of the 16 employees working at the mill at the time were taken to hospitals.

Didion had no word on the conditions of the employees who were injured.

It may be months before the results of state and federal investigations into the cause of the massive explosion are known.

Some employees have started returning to work at the mill complex.

The company’s president, Riley Didion, told Cambria village board members Monday night that the neighboring ethanol plant, which was not damaged, will begin accepting loads of corn from farmers in the coming days.

Village president Glen Williams said the ethanol plant is about 300 yards from what’s left of the mill.

Cambria Fire Chief Cody Doucette said the rubble continues to smolder, but is contained by cement. The corn meal that continues to smolder will eventually burn out, Doucette said at the meeting.

Support pours in from community

There has been an outpouring of community support for the victims and their families.

A GoFundMe page created within hours of the accident to raise money for Block’s daughter, which set out to collect $5,000, raised $10,755 from 268 people in five days. A fund set up for Tordoff’s family raised nearly $13,000 in three days.

The morning after the explosion and ensuing fire, when few details were known, Cambria Village Clerk Lois Frank was receiving requests for information about where donations and support could be directed. Material donations made their way to First Presbyterian Church before being shifted to the Cambria-Friesland Middle/High School.

On Tuesday morning, the school — which for nearly two years has been in partnership with Didion through the Cambria-Friesland Career Coalition — opened a new pantry location just for Didion families, said Cambria Schools Superintendent Timothy Raymond.

“The donations have just been outstanding and there have been wonderful people coming out from Didion to give the food out and the response has been overwhelming,” Raymond said.

With so much food on hand, Raymond said what is most needed now are personal hygiene products, baby products, toiletries and kitchen accessories.

As a volunteer helped a woman fill shopping bags under the shade of a yard tent, Andrew Wood, who at lunchtime had been stationed outside the school since 9 a.m., said that with a half-freezer worth of cold dedicated storage space, meats would be a helpful addition to the few pounds of ground beef and a chicken on hand.

The Associated Press and State Journal reporter Logan Wroge contributed to this report.

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