"So, I go outside to pick up some ... snow and I just see that the whole roof's on fire". "I knew that you don't do that", he told authorities.
The 30-year-old said he was concerned about trying to make the trek and falling through rivers that had not yet frozen over, and he only would have about six hours of daylight to attempt to travel through "a tremendous amount of powder" from recent snows.
Steele described how a box full of ammunition and a propane tank exploded in the roaring fire as he tried to save the cabin by throwing snow on it until dawn.
Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers, called Steele's survival "stunning". Inside. And I thought he was not inside.
Steele spent the next two nights in a snow cave and then built a makeshift shelter over the ruins of his cabin, where he spent 22 or 23 days in subzero temperatures and deep snow before he was rescued by aircrew with Alaska State Troopers Thursday, NBC reports.
The Utah native survived on cans of beans and peanut butter before he was rescued.
Steele said. "So, it takes me a while to go back to sleep".
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"I have no words for what sorrow; it was just a scream. that's all I could express - just scream".
Steele's family members had not heard from Steele for several weeks and requested that troopers check on his welfare. "It tastes like my home, just burning". "It was just, just a scream", Mr Steele said.
Since Steele lost his phone in the fire, he made a decision to wait things out and hope that someone would call for a welfare check.
Alaska State Troopers shared a video of the rescue on Facebook, which captured Steele waving his arms in the ari as he realizes help has finally arrived. If someone hadn't come by Day 35, he'd set out. He made the SOS signal in the snow, tracing it with the ash from the fire to make it stand out, he said.
The rescuers gave Steele a shower and meal from McDonald's as he recounted his story to them.
Steele said he was going to stay with his parents in Salt Lake City to recover.
"They've got a dog", he said smiling, but with a look of sadness in his eyes.