San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 24th, 2013
Retired physician’s hillside home destroyed by blaze

COVER: The house at 901 Old Ranch Road 12 was a total loss, the city’s spokesperson said, but firefighters kept it from spreading to nearby homes and managed to save a car and RV. No one was injured. PHOTO by DON ANDERS


A fire Wednesday evening destroyed a ridgetop house owned by a well-known retired physician but firefighters from five departments were able to contain the blaze before it swept through wooded hills dotted with large, older homes.

The 56-year-old house at 901 Old Ranch Road 12 is a total loss, city spokesperson Melissa Millecam told the San Marcos Mercury at the scene, but its occupants escaped without injury. The home is owned by Dr. Benge Elliott, 91, and his 88-year-old wife, Irene. Millecam said her understanding was that the doctor and his wife were in the house at the time the fire started at about 7:30 p.m. but were able to get out before the structure was fully engulfed.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the city’s fire marshal office.

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NOTE: The story originally said the Elliots’ home was 43 years old, based on appraisal district records that state it was built in 1970. Millecam says the house is 56 years old.


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16 thoughts on “Retired physician’s hillside home destroyed by blaze

  1. I live on loop st. Pretty scary when there are no f ire hydrants on loop st. Maybe city can look into this

  2. It was a valiant effort by all the fire department who kept the fire from spreading. My heart goes out to Dr. Elliott and his wife.

  3. So the land is on the tax rolls for $8,585/acre. Does anyone here think that,even if Dr. Elliott was in a selling mood, he would sell for anything less than about 3 times that amount? And yet my house (and yours too, I bet) is on the tax rolls for about 90% of the market value. I don’t blame Dr. Elliott but it points out the inefficient and regressive nature of our current tax system.

  4. Thanks to the NBFD for watching our backs
    while all our brave firemen battled this blaze.
    I apprecite the fact that they left their homes to come save ours.
    Sheldon Kramer.

  5. Sad event for a lovely couple, family friends, and my parent’s doctor for many years. I always thought that house looked so inviting and cool. Mary Ann Fitzgerald Bell

  6. Dr. Elliott was my physician for many years…..I am so sorry for their loss. He is a wonderful person.

  7. SMsince95, def a time and place for your comments, just not sure here while the smoke literally likely still hasn’t cleared is that time…Tragic, however old that house is, I am almost certain the Elliotts have lived in it since it was built. Couple in their 90’s that have been displaced from a house that they have lived in for 50+ years is heartbreaking.

  8. I am so sorry about the damage to their house but so very thankful that Dr. and Mrs. Elliott were not harmed.

  9. I have loved that house and its setting for decades. I have loved the family since even before they built up there on that hillside. The Elliotts have been and continue to be a blessing to me and my family. It is my hope that they can rebuild there if that is what they choose.

  10. To SMsince95: I believe when you reach a certain age, your property taxes are frozen and stay at the same rate. Since the owner was 91, that was probably the going rate 25-30 years ago.

  11. The taxes are frozen but the value shown on the appraisal district continues to adjust so $8585/acre is the current “market value”.

  12. Only school taxes are frozen when one reaches the age of 65. As for the appraisal value…if Dr. Elliott should chose to sell his acreage to anyone other than a residential buyer, believe me…the anti-development people would be out in force to challenge the sale. However, this really isn’t the proper time to discuss this as it is a tragedy for the Elliotts. Bad things should never happen to good people.

  13. Who are these “anti-development people” of whom you speak, Jim? Do you mean the long-term residents and homeowners of San Marcos whose quality of living and property values would be destroyed by the construction of one-thousand MORE apartment bedrooms in their neighborhoods?
    Jim doesn’t care if our established core neighborhoods are killed by upsetting the ratio of single-family homes to apartments. After all, it’s not Jim’s lost investment. But you know what, Jim? We homeowners are fighting back because our area of town has reached its carrying capacity for apartments. Any additional apartments and our neighborhoods die, Jim. Here’s a suggestion for you, Jim: Lobby to have your neighborhood’s zoning changed to multi-family. Build apartments in your own neighborhood, Jim. Build as many as you like.
    The message Jim sends to potential family home buyers is that San Marcos is not interested in having you here. Jim’s message is, “If you buy a home in San Marcos you are a sucker.”
    The real anti-growth people are the Jims of this community who are willing to destroy single-family core neighborhoods so they can fill their pockets with “development” money. Our loss is your gain, huh Jim. The truth is, Jim knows that we homeowners are not anti-growth. The real problem Jim has is that we homeowners are fighting back.

  14. My name is Jim. LOL

    Where were you, Donald…when apartments/duplexes for students were being built in almost every residential area in San Marcos years ago? Where were you when the powers-that-be allowed the downtown area to be taken over by the university? Where were most of the residents of San Marcos?

    I’m a long-time homeowner here. I was there trying to stem the growth of the university to no avail. Today, my home is worthless as a residence unless I rent it out to students as so many other absent homeowners have done. The only solution is to get out of the city limits and away from anything connected to the university. And, if this means we and people like Dr. Elliott who have any undeveloped acreage remaining choose to let the developers build more housing for students so be it. One can fight just so long before giving up!

    The old adage one can’t fight city hall is so true. Donald, face the facts and sell out while there is some value left in your homestead.

    Oh, and Donald…you hit the nail on the head. Buying a home in San Marcos is for suckers.

    BTW, Donald, I have no idea what Dr. Elliott’s plans are for his property. Whatever he decides to do I would support him. He deserves no less than everyone’s full support.

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