Man who survived weeks in Alaskan wilderness now back with family in Salt Lake City

alaska survivor tyson steele photos (19).png
Tyson Steele with his dog, Phil (Photo courtesy Tyson Steele)

The man who survived more than three weeks in Alaska after his cabin burned down is now back with his family in Salt Lake City.

Tyson Steele survived a fire, 23 days in subzero temperatures, extremely limited food, and the death of his dog. But during it all he says he knew he would make it through.

Steele learned a lot of his survival skills from his grandfather.

"He was always an inspiration to me with his trapping and hunting stories. I continued kind of the wilderness tradition,” Steele told 2News.

He'd been at his cabin in Skwentna, Alaska for three months when he woke up to balls of fire dripping on him — his plastic roof was melting.

He said the first priority was getting survival gear and his dog, Phil, out of the fire.

"I tried to save him, but the flames spread like gasoline. and I couldn't get in there. What he meant to me was everything."

The fire destroyed Steele's shelter, most of his food and all three of his communication devices. He says he passed the time reading books he found in a shed, but there was one he couldn't bring himself to finish.

"I'm learning all of these colonies are starving to death. You know, the Jamestown colony is starving, the Plymouth colony is starving. They have to rebuild their town after disease. I was like, 'No I'm not reading this,'" he said.

The tale was too close to home when he rationed himself to two cans of food per day. He stamped out an SOS in the snow and waved his arms to alert planes flying overhead.

"And I'd just do what I did on the video. Just for a few minutes. And like, they can't see me, they can't see me at all. Yeah, that was a little bit hard."

But he said he knew his family would send help.

"When Christmas came around, for sure, that's when we were like something is wrong, this is not like him to not communicate,” said Tyson’s mother, Sherri Steele. “Then New Year’s comes, that's when we called the pilot."

Tyson spent 23 days alone in the wilderness before Alaska State Troopers picked him up.

He said he thought a lot about what he would say to his family.

"I was hoping that we could just throw another Christmas, because mine sucked. It was horrible. I felt like that's such a childish request, but I don't care. It's just something I needed,” Steele said.

He got that Christmas on Saturday. Tyson got time with his family, the junk food he wanted, and his grandfather’s coat. Steele said his plans now are to regroup in Salt Lake, then return to Alaska as early as March.

Follow 2News reporter Kelly Vaughen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.