Raccoon Times, July 24, 1998
SPENCER MANSION DESTROYED IN EXPLOSIVE FIRE
RACCOON CITY—At approximately 2 A.M. Thursday morning, Victory Lake district residents were awakened by an explosive blast that thundered through northwest Raccoon Forest, apparently caused by a fire that swept through the abandoned Spencer mansion and ignited chemicals stored in the basement. Due to delays from the police barricade set up at the forest perimeter (in connection with the recent string of murders in Raccoon City), local firefighters were unable to salvage any part of the estate's grounds. After a three-hour battle against the raging fire, the thirty one year old mansion and adjacent servant's quarters were deemed a complete loss.
Built by Lord Oswell Spencer, European aristocrat and one of the founders of the worldwide pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, Inc., the estate was designed by award-winning architect George Trevor as a guest house for Umbrella VIPs and was closed down shortly after completion for reasons unknown. According to Amanda Whitney, spokesperson for the Umbrella Corporation, parts of the estate were still being used to store a number of industrial cleaning agents and solvents used by Umbrella. Whitney said in a statement yesterday that the company would take full responsibility for the unfortunate incident, calling it
"A serious oversight on our part. Those chemicals should have been cleared out of the Spencer house a long time ago, and we're just thankful that no one was hurt."
At this point, the cause of the fire is undetermined, but Whitney went on to say that Umbrella will be bringing in their own investigators to sift through the ruins in hopes of determining the fire's point of origin. . .
Raccoon Weekly, July 29, 1998
S.T.A.R.S. TAKEN OFF MURDER INVESTIGATION
RACCOON CITY—In a surprising announcement by city officials at a press conference yesterday, the Raccoon City branch of the Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) was officially removed from the investigation into the nine brutal murders and five disappearances of city residents that have occurred in the last ten weeks. City council member Edward Weist delivered the statement, citing gross incompetence as the primary reason for the S.T.A.R.S. removal.
Readers may remember that the S.T.A.R.S.'s first action upon being assigned the cases last week was to search the northwest area of the forest for the alleged cannibal killers.
Weist stated that it was because of their "blatantly unprofessional conduct" that their mission ended in disaster, re-suiting in the crash of a helicopter and the loss of six of their eleven team members, including the S.T.A.R.S. branch commander, Captain Albert Wesker.
"After [the S.T.A.R.S.'s] mishandling of the Raccoon Forest search," said Weist, "we've decided to let the RPD see this investigation through to its conclusion. We have reason to believe that the S.T.A.R.S. may have been ingesting drugs and/or alcohol prior to their search, and have suspended the use of their services indefinitely."
Weist was joined by Sarah Jacobsen (representing Mayor Harris) and Police Commissioner J.C. Washington to make the announcement and answer questions. Neither Police Chief Brian Irons nor any of the surviving S.T.A.R.S. could be reached for comment. . .
Cityside, August 3, 1998
SOURCE OF ESTATE FIRE DEEMED ACCIDENTAL
RACCOON CITY—After an exhaustive investigation by fire officials working with Umbrella, Inc.'s ISD (Industrial Services Division), the fire that ravaged the company-owned Spencer estate in Raccoon Forest late last month was determined to have been caused by carelessness on the part of person or persons unknown, as was announced in a press conference yesterday. Said ISD Team Leader David Bischoff,
"It looks like somebody tried to start a campfire in one of the mansion's rooms and things just got out of control.
We've found nothing to suggest arson or foul play of any kind." He went on to say that while the destruction of the property was total, there's no evidence that anyone was caught in the fire or subsequent explosion.
Chief Brian Irons of the Raccoon City Police Department was in attendance at the conference, and when asked whether he believed the fire to be connected to the unsolved murders and disappearances plaguing the city, Irons stated that there was no way to be sure. Said Irons, "At this point, anything I could say would only be speculation—though I will say that the fact that the murders have stopped since the night of the fire seems to imply that perhaps the killers were hiding there. We can only hope that they've now left the area and will soon be apprehended."
Chief Irons refused to comment on the allegations of gross misconduct by the S.T.A.R.S. in their brief assignment to the murder investigation, saying only that he agreed with the city council's decision and disciplinary actions are being considered. . .
Rebecca Chambers rode her mountain bike through the dark, winding streets of the Cider district, the late summer moon swelling in the warm, clear night sky overhead. Although it was relatively early, the suburban streets were deserted, the citywide curfew still in effect; no one under eighteen was supposed to be out after dusk until the murderers were caught and put safely behind bars. It had been a tense and quiet summer in Raccoon City, at least on the surface.
She glided past silent houses, the faint glow of television sets spilling out across well-kept lawns, the distant drone of crickets and an occasional barking dog the only sounds in the air that whipped past her.
The uneasy citizens of Raccoon dwelled behind those locked doors, waiting for the announcement that the killers had been apprehended and that their city was safe.
If they only knew...,
For just a moment, Rebecca envied them their ignorance. She'd come to the rather disheartening conclusion in the last couple of weeks that knowing the truth wasn't all it was cracked up to be—particularly when no one believed it.
It had been a long, merciless thirteen days since the nightmare at the Spencer estate. The surviving S.T.A.R.S. had escaped treachery and death just to run up against a massive brick wall of scornful disbelief when they'd tried to tell their tale. Jill, Chris, Barry, and herself had been labeled drug addicts and worse in the local papers, undoubtedly at Umbrella's urging—and after their suspension, even the RPD
had refused to believe them. Now, with Umbrella taking over the investigation of the fire, undoubtedly getting rid of the last of the evidence ... it was as if everywhere the S.T.A.R.S. turned, Umbrella had been there first, greasing palms and covering tracks, making it impossible to get anyone to listen to their story.