Dubik and Kracha walk to the steel mill on a steaming August day. Dubik tells Kracha that he wants to move his family to Cherry Hill: “The rent's higher but it will be worth it to get off that damned cinder dump,” Dubik reasons. Not long after the men go to their respective furnace stations to work, Kracha “[feels] the earth shake under him” followed by “a terrible deep boom, like the roar of an explosion underground.” He sees flames and red smoke belching from H Furnace, where Dubik works. Kracha runs to H Furnace and finds many workers severely injured in the blast, including Dubik. He lifts Dubik onto his back and carries him through the smoke and soot.
As Bell notes, the explosions like the one that kills Dubik are regular occurrences on the blast furnaces. The steel companies cannot resist the temptation to maximize profits by constantly pushing the limits of their combustible materials, especially when the workers (rather than the companies) are the ones to suffer the deadly consequences.
Dubik tries to speak, but his scorched face cracks. He tells Kracha not to take him home, lest Dorta see him so badly burnt, so Kracha takes him to the stables. But Dorta, having heard the explosion, comes to the mill and urges Kracha to bring Dubik home. With “her face like death,” Dorta waits to load Dubik with other burned men onto a train bound for the hospital in Pittsburgh. Two days later, Dubik dies “blind and unconscious” at the hospital. The steel company officially rules the furnace explosion an accident that was “impossible to foresee or prevent.” The explosion, however, is also “the result of greed,” as the company is knowingly using cheaper, and more combustible, Mesabi ores that are more likely to “choke the furnaces.” The company contributes $75 to Dubik’s funeral expenses.
This section represents the first time in the novel that a significant character dies, and Dubik perishes in horrific fashion. Death in a furnace accident embodies the dual productive and destructive nature of industrialization: just as Dubik is discussing improving his life by moving off the cinder dump—a life made possible by the steel mill—the steel mill takes Dubik’s life from him. As is the case through the course of Bell’s novel, American industry creates and destroys in equal fashion.