GRAY COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - "People in the panhandle and particularly in Gray County, they are so independent," said Sani Martin, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Gray County.
Martin is no stranger to the way of life in the panhandle.
"They are going to take care of what they have and their cattle is their livelihood," Martin said.
That is how Sloan Everett, Sydney Wallace, and Cody Crockett lost their lives on Monday.
We are told they were trying to move cattle away from the wildfires consuming the Franklin Ranch, which is located just north of McLean and is owned by Everett's in-laws.
"It's real rough country," said Crockett's sister Callie said.
"Whenever we tried to get back there we couldn't just with our car, so they were horseback. I guess they were unaware of how bad the fire really was so they got trapped out there," Callie said.
Callie said she could see the smoke from her school and became worried.
She said one of her brother's and her dad were already helping fight the fire, so she called Cody.
"I talked to him about 2:00 or 3:00 and I was trying to make conversation, but he was moving cattle," Callie said.
Crockett never called her back.
"It can be going in one direction very fast and suddenly, it has a life of its own. It can do things and it's just very unfortunate that they got caught up in it," Martin said.
Callie said her brother was a true West Texas cowboy.
"He really liked to work outside and with the animals and horses that just really fit his personality, just doing what he loved," Callie said.
Even at a young age, she said he never underestimated the value of hard work.
"He liked to hang around adults more than kids his age. He liked to listen to them talk and learn stuff about ranching and horses and how to better himself more than anything," Callie said.
Hoping to one day ranch on his own land, Callie said her brother was gaining experience helping Everett for the last two years.
"Whenever he was a senior, he moved out onto the Franklin Ranch and he lived on a house out there that they provided for him. He started taking care of cattle and riding horses for them and feeding and just looking after their land when he was 18," Callie said.
With the fires still burning in the panhandle, there are more lives on the line.
While those in Gray County are thankful the fire is contained, they are mourning what those flames took that will never be replaced.