30-year-old Steele had been living alone in a remote cabin about 20 miles away from the community of Skwentna when he woke up to find the roof of his cabin on fire. The temperature outside that day was about 15 degrees below zero. He thinks it was December 17th or 18th when the cabin went up in flames. He subsequently endured more than 20 days alone, with no equipment in harsh, subzero temperatures.
A series of split-second decisions meant life or death for Steele as he had to decide what supplies to save and what to let burn. His beloved 6-year-old chocolate lab, Phil, did not make it out. Steele says he quickly shoved his dog from the bed, yelling “Go. Get out, now!” He grabbed what he knew they would need to survive the night without a proper shelter. That would be all that he had time to gather. By the time he got outside, he realized his dog hadn’t followed him.
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