Utah man survives 3 weeks in Alaska wilderness after cabin burns down

Utah man survives 3 weeks in Alaska wilderness after cabin burns down. (Photo courtesy: Alaska Department of Public Safety)

A Salt Lake City man managed to survive for nearly three weeks in the snow after his remote Alaska cabin burned down.

Family and friends of 30-year-old Tyson Steele called police to ask they perform a welfare check on Steele, because no one had heard from him in weeks.

Because the cabin was so remote, troopers used a helicopter to reach the cabin near Skwentna, Alaska.

When troopers arrived, they spotted "SOS" written in the snow with Steele waving his arms frantically, trying to get noticed.

Steele's cabin burned down in mid-December, leaving Steele without a way to contact anyone. Alaska State Trooper Ken Marsh writes:

The 30-year-old homesteader figures the date was either December 17 or 18. He’s not certain because he’d been living alone since September in a remote corner of the Susitna Valley. Miles and miles of forests, hills, rivers, and lakes separated him from the road system. He had no snowmachine. And his nearest neighbor was 20 miles away, in the tiny community of Skwentna. Steele’s only way in or out of the wilderness was by air charter.

Steele says he made the mistake of putting a big piece of cardboard in his wood stove and he thinks a spark caught the roof on fire.

Some food survived the fire, but much of it was burned.

In an interview with Marsh, Steele said:

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].

Steele said he plans to return to Salt Lake City to spend time with family.

Steele recounted his entire story to Marsh in an online story. We've published that story below: