At midnight on December 17th or 18th, it suddenly happened. Detailed news release Interview with Steele published by the Alaska State Police. His 30-year-old settler from Utah made what he called a “rash mistake.” He threw a large piece of cardboard into the fire in the wood stove. It sent sparks out of the chimney and the sparks landed on the plastic roof while he was sleeping, Steele explained in an interview with authorities.
“It’s one or two in the morning and you woke up in a cold hut, didn’t you?” Steel said to the trooper. “…and drips, drips, drips — flaming plastic droplets fell from the roof overhead.
Thus began my 23 days trapped in rural Alaska. Steele scrambled to save what he could and watched nearly his entire livelihood go up in flames. Steele spent three weeks huddled in a snow cave, eating canned food by the remains of a woodstove. Finally on Thursday, Alaska Department of Public Safety officers rescued him.
After escorting him to safety on Lake Hood in Anchorage on Friday, state troopers released Steele’s fascinating survivalist story in an eight-page news release, mostly in Steele’s own words. That afternoon, after friends and family reported not hearing from him for quite some time, Trooper was dispatched to Steele’s cabin for a medical checkup. I waved at him and found Steele walking around in a circle inside his boots.
Despite being stranded in the snow for three weeks, Alaska State Trooper Ken Marsh said Steele looked lively and healthy, “vaguely reminiscent of the character of actor Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away.” I wrote that it looked like Coveralls he “recovered from the shed” after a fire in the 1980s were charcoal-stained and smelled like smoke, Marsh writes.
But when Steele sipped coffee from a tall McDonald’s, “he seemed happy to talk,” the officer said.
Steele told the soldiers that he had been living on a small farm since September, when he bought a hut from a Vietnam veteran and went on an adventure. He brought along lots of food, matches, a rifle, a “crappy phone” (as it turned out later), and of course, Phil, his 6-year-old chocolate Labrador.
He said he never had any formal training in outdoor survival. But he knew how to start a fire — and he knew, he said.
“You get the image of a swirling flame coming into my face from the side, don’t you think?” he said to the trooper. “And the worst part of all this — I can survive her 23 days again. But my dog was there, sleeping beside me.”
Standing outside in long underwear, staring at the burning roof, Steele began to panic. He ran back inside through a plume of smoke to save all the blankets, coats and sleeping bags he could find, yelling at Phil to get out. He was relieved when he saw Phil jump out of bed.
At that moment, a howl was heard from within. By then, his plastic shed had become hell as his 500 rounds of ammunition had exploded. Phil is trapped.
“I was hysterical,” he said. “I can’t put into words how sad I was. It was just…just a scream. I was just angry. I wasn’t angry or sad.
He spent hours trying to rake snow over the flames, to no avail. In the morning light he said [sat] By the burning house,” and realized that I had lost almost everything I owned. He had a gun, but no bullets. He had no snowshoe, telephone, or map. He knew someone could live five miles away, but if trekking through knee-deep snow and he had only six hours of sunshine, It may take several days. He knew it was too dangerous.
Instead, the steel remained intact. He checked his food inventory. Melted plastic peanuts He’s 2 jars of butter, 1 jar of beans, 30 days’ worth of canned food, twice daily rations. He built a snow cave big enough for himself and his sleeping bag.
“I huddled in that dark cave and slept,” he said. “I slept for a really long time. And… it was warm. Warmer than outside.”
Eventually, he got more cunning and built a new makeshift shelter around the surviving woodstove using scrap wood and a cleaned tarp. There, a fire can be kept burning continuously to heat up smoke-damaged canned food, and it “just tastes like it’s on fire, like my home,” he said. He saved the worst ration of what he called “refried beans smoked in plastic” for a later date.
“No hickory, no mesquite,” he said of the flavor. “It’s a class A waterproof tarp.”
As the days wore on, Steele spent his days wondering how long it would be before friends and family realized he wasn’t calling. I was often unable to call . He realizes his family may just think his phone is broken again.
He started thinking about the chances of an airliner finding him. Every day I heard planes flying through the sky, but none near me. Still, he prepared for his arrival by hiking to a lake about 400 meters from the homestead, knowing that the plane might land during the winter months. It took me days to get there. He checked the ice to make sure it was solid enough to support the plane, and made a way back to the homestead, where he drew “SOS” on the ashes.
It kept snowing and Steele kept tracing the letters.
Finally, from above the evergreens, a pair of troopers read them.
After taking him to Lake Hood, the troopers shower Steele and fulfill his “long-dreamed” meal request, McDonald’s No. 2 Combo Meal. And Steele told his story. He said he would eventually move back to his home in Alaska – “because this is my home,” he said – but for now, Utah to be with his family for a while. he said he would return to
His family had dogs, he said. It was exactly what he needed.