Man survives 20 days after cabin burns down near Skwentna
A Utah man managed to survive more than 20 days in subzero temperatures after his cabin near Skwentna burned down.
Alaska State Troopers responded to a welfare check on Tyson Steele, 30, after friends said they hadn’t heard from him in weeks.
Troopers arrived in a helicopter to find Steele waving for help and SOS stamped in the snow.
It turned out Steele’s cabin had burned down in mid-December and he’s been stranded without a way to contact help.
Steele told troopers he had made a mistake by putting a big piece of cardboard in his wood stove and believes a spark caught the roof on fire.
The fire killed his dog, a chocolate lab named Phil.
"What happened from there is just too hard to relive," Steele told KUTV in Salt Lake City.
Steele says he sat on the snow next to the fire and was shell shocked.
"I don't know how long I sat there as the fire spread because there was nothing. Everything was so engulfed, there's nothing else I could save that really mattered," he said.
Steele says when he came to his senses he thought about saving his food stocked alongside supplies from the cabin's previous owner.
"There were some other problems around the food and things I would have never thought about. One, storing my bullets next to the pantry, probably about 500 rounds of bullets that he had left behind and some that I had. They were just like a machine gun," he said mimicking the sound of a gun. "Like a war zone."
Steele says a propane tank in the pantry shot flames toward the food.
"So it was a good eight hours that I was fighting the fire to get my pantry. Two years of food supply was dwindled to 30 days, maybe 30 and 35 days of one can for breakfast and one can for dinner," he said.
In an interview with AST public information officer Ken Marsh, Steele said he put off eating some of the charred canned food as long as he could.
“Last night’s meal was probably one of the worst. I was leaving the burned-off stuff for the last. And last night’s dinner was a can of plastic-smoked refried beans. No hickory, no mesquite [he laughs] it’s Class A waterproof tarp [flavor],” Marsh wrote in an online story.
Troopers made sure Steele got a shower and a McDonald’s No. 2 combo meal.
He's now back in Utah spending time with family but he says he plans on returning to Alaska.
Megan Mazurek contributed to this report.
Copyright 2020 KTVA. All rights reserved.
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