Man Rescued After Surviving 20+ Days in Alaskan Wilderness

Tyson Steele was stranded after a fire burned down his remote cabin, then inventively called for help.

A man was rescued partially thanks to the giant “SOS” he drew with ashes in the snow, after being stranded in the Alaskan wilderness for 23 days.

Alaska State Troopers spotted 30-year-old Tyson Steele by helicopter on January 9 in a “remote corner” of the Susitna Valley, approximately 20 miles away from the nearest town of Skwentna, AK. Steele was living without shelter for more than 20 days after a fire burned down his cabin. 

The crew was conducting a welfare check after Steele’s friends said they hadn’t heard from him in weeks, according to the trooper’s 8-page news release. Steele had been living alone since September 2019 in a “hut” he bought from a Vietnam vet. 

He told authorities that his home caught on fire in mid-December when he mistakenly tried to light his stove with cardboard. Steele’s 6-year-old dog, a chocolate Labrador named Phil, tragically died in the fire. 

“It started with a pretty hasty mistake,” Steele told officials. “My woodstove is very, very old. The mistake I made – sorry, my thoughts are still a little scattered – the mistake I made, I got hasty and I put a big piece of cardboard in the stove to start the fire. Which I knew was a problem, I’ve had woodstoves all my life. I knew that you don’t do that. So, it sent a spark out through the chimney which landed on the roof.”

Steele survived by rationing cans of food and building makeshift shelters. Authorities called his survival “stunning.”