(Covers information from the S.D. Perry novels)
Associated Press, October 6, 1998
AS FIRE SWEEPS THROUGH MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY, MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS MAY BE INVOLVED
NEW YORK, NY - The secluded mountain community of Raccoon City, PA, has officially been declared a disaster area by state and federal officials, as dedicated firefighters continue to wage war against the dying blazes and the death toll continues to rise. It is now estimated that over seven thousand people were killed by the explosive fires that raged through Raccoon in the early hours of Sunday, October 4. It is being called the worst U.S. disaster in terms of lives lost since the industrial age, and as national aid organizations and international press flock to the blockades surrounding the still burning ruins of the city, shocked friends and family of Raccoon citizens have been gathering, waiting for word in nearby Latham.
National Disaster Control (NDC) Director Terrence Chavez, coordinator for the combined efforts of the multiple firefighting and emergency teams, released a statement to the press last night stating that barring unforeseen complications, he expects the last of the flames to be extinguished before midweek, but that it may be months before the origin of the fire is determined, as well as whether or not arson was involved. Said Chavez, "The magnitude of the damage in terms of area alone is going to make finding the answers a great undertaking, but the answers are there. We will get to the bottom of this, whatever it takes."
As of 6A.M. today, seventy-eight survivors have been found, and their names and conditions withheld; they have been transported to an undisclosed federal facility for observation and/or treatment. Initial reports by HazMat teams suggest that an unknown illness may be responsible for the incredible number of victims, as infected citizens were unable to escape due to the possibly incapacitating sickness. There is the further suggestion that the disease may have induced violent psychosis in some of those infected. Members of private and federal disease-control centers have called for extending the quarantine boundaries, and although no official statement has been released, there have been several "leaked" descriptions of physical and biological abnormalities in many of the victims. Said one source, a worker for a federal assessment team, "Some of those people weren't just burned or
dead from smoke inhalation. I saw people who'd been killed by gunshot wounds or stabbings, and other forms of violence. I saw people who'd obviously been sick, dead, or dying long before the fire ever hit. The fire was bad - terrible - but it's not the only disaster that occurred there, I'd bet money on it."
Raccoon City was in the news earlier this year when a series of unusual murders rocked the community. These were apparently unmotivated slayings, of extreme violence, and several involved cannibalism; already, tentative connections are being made by local press near Raccoon between the eleven unsolved murders from last summer and the rumors of mass violence prior to the consuming flames. Mr. Chavez refused to confirm or deny the rumors, saying only that investigations into the tragedy will be thorough. . .