A 30-year-old man was able to survive for 20 days in the remote Alaskan wilderness after his cabin burned down. Tyson Steele told authorities he used a piece of cardboard to light his wood stove, which created a spark that caused his roof to catch on fire.
“I knew it was a problem, I’ve had wood stoves all my life. I knew that you don’t do that,” he told authorities. “So, it sent a spark out through the chimney which landed on the roof.”
He watched in horror as his cabin burned the ground and tried to salvage what he could from the flames. He managed to get some blankets, a few coats, sleeping bags, and some cans of food. Unfortunately, his dog didn’t make it out in time.
“I have no words for what sorrow; it was just, just a scream. Just a visceral — not angry, not sad — just … all I could express, just scream,” Steele said. “Felt like I tore my lung out.”
Steele knew he was in trouble. His phone wasn’t working, and the nearest neighbor was 20 miles away. He dug a cave in the snow and lived inside it for two days until the flames that engulfed his cabin had finally gone out. He then used some lumber and tarp to create a tent in the charred remains of his home.
He managed to save enough food to last roughly 30 days and was hoping his family would realize something was wrong and send help.
“The thing was, maybe half of those cans, they’ve heated up and popped open and the smoke’s circulating inside,” he said. “So, it tastes like my home, just burning.”
He spent most of his time sleeping and trying to stay warm in the subzero temperatures. Eventually, one of his family members contacted authorities in Alaska to do a welfare check on him.
They sent a helicopter to look for him and managed to find the giant “SOS” he carved into the snow. Alaska State Troopers shared a video of the rescue on Facebook, which captured Steele waving his arms in the ari as he realizes help has finally arrived.
Steele said that he plans to go to Salt Lake City to spend some time with his family.
“They’ve got a dog. And that would be some therapy,” Steele said
He doesn’t expect to stay there permanently and eventually wants to return to Alaska.