Tyson Steele, 30, was found among the rubble on his remote Susitna Valley estate Thursday morning, according to an Alaska State Troopers press release, after friends asked authorities to conduct a welfare check. being after not hearing it.
In aerial images shared by the soldiers, Tyson comes out among the snow-covered remains of his home, waving to the soldiers in a helicopter, a large "SOS" carved in the snow behind him.
"Everything I owned was consolidated in that cabin," Steele told the soldiers, who shared Steele's survival account. in the detailed release.
In the weeks following the fire, Steele said, he survived the remains of canned food and peanut butter, sleeping in a snow cave and a makeshift shelter he built around his wood stove.
The fire took almost everything – including your dog
Steele has lived on his farm about 20 miles from Skwentna since September, he told state troops. He described his house as a Quonset cabin – a lightweight structure covered with plastic tarpaulins – which he bought from a Vietnam veteran.
He admitted to the soldiers that the fire resulted from a "hasty" mistake. In a hurry to light the fire, he stuffed a large piece of cardboard into the wood stove. He believes a flaming piece of cardboard came out of the chimney and fell on the roof.
Steele woke up in the middle of the night on December 17 or 18 – he couldn't remember the exact date, the soldiers said – and heard the melting plastic coming from the roof. After Steele left, he said, "I just saw that the whole roof is on fire."
Steele told the soldiers "The cabin" burns faster than, like, I can imagine. "
He started taking everything he could, including blankets and a rifle, but his real priority was his 6-year-old chocolate lab, Phil.
He ordered Phil out, and when he jumped out of bed Steele assumed he had left the house.
But when Steele left, he heard Phil howl – inside. "And I thought he wasn't in there," he said.
"I was hysterical … I have no words for that sadness; it was just a scream," Steele told the soldiers. "Just a visceral – no anger, no sadness, that's all I could express – just scream."
Writing SOS in the snow
Steele didn't have much time to mourn, however, since he needed a survival plan, he said.
He didn't know enough about the surrounding area, including which of the region's many waterways would be frozen enough to cross, Steele told the soldiers.
He gathered the surviving foods from canned goods, some beans, and peanut butter and estimated that he had enough food to have two cans a day for a month. But too much food opened in the heat of the fire, he said, and mingled with the smoke from his burning cabin.
"So it tastes like my house, just burning."
Steele had a "bad" phone that he used to talk to friends and family, but authorities said it was lost in the fire. So he hoped someone would ask for a welfare check after not hearing from him. If someone had not arrived on the 35th, he would leave.
Meanwhile, Steele slept in a snow cave before building a better shelter using tarps and wood. He made the SOS signal in the snow, locating it with the ashes of the fire to highlight it, he said.
It was so cold, he said, that his urine froze in a bucket near the fire after a few minutes.
Finally, about 20 days after the fire, Steele saw the Alaskan state troop helicopter above him.
Pilot Cliff Gilliland and tactical flight officer Zac Johnson rescued him, the agency said. They took a shower and brought a meal from McDonald's.
Steele now plans to return home to Salt Lake City, where his family lives, he told the soldiers.
"They have a dog," he said.
CNN's Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report.