Man survives 23 days in sub-zero temperatures after cabin burns down

12 January 2020, 14:21 | Updated: 12 January 2020, 20:57

A man who spent 23 days in sub-freezing temperatures after his cabin burned down in Alaska has been rescued.

Tyson Steele, 30, said the fire in the remote home had started after he mistakenly put cardboard in his wood stove to help light it.

But it sent a spark through the chimney that landed on the roof and then the whole of the top part caught fire.

He grabbed some blankets, a few coats and some sleeping bags before fleeing his cabin which was engulfed by flames.

Mr Steele was also able to scavenge some canned food and jars of peanut butter that had not yet been destroyed.

He said: "I stepped outside and everything's on fire."

Mr Steele hoped his beloved pet labrador had followed him outside, but the dog did not.

He said: "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.

"[It] felt like I tore my lung out."

It was mid-December in a remote area of the Susitna Valley. His phone did not work, his nearest neighbour was 20 miles away and the only way in and out of the wilderness was by air.

The man was rescued after state troopers responded to a request from a friend for a "welfare check" on Mr Steele after he had not been heard from for several weeks.

Mr Steele had stamped a giant "SOS" in the snow using ash and a video showed him next to it frantically waving to rescuers.

He said that for the first two nights after his cabin was destroyed he slept inside a snow cave he built.

Once the flames went out, he built a tent-like structure over what remained of his cabin.

Mr Steele said he spent a lot of time sleeping and tried not to go outside, where at one point the snow had reached 5ft high.

As the days went by, he said he began wondering when his family and friends would get worried and send help.

That assistance arrived last Thursday and troopers said he "appeared healthy" after being stranded for 23 days.

Mr Steele said he plans to go to Salt Lake City where his family lives. "They've got a dog. And that would be some therapy," he said.