Red Cross assisting fire victims in days before Christmas

By Stacy

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Nick Colaricci woke up extra early Sunday, around 4 a.m., when a pulsing noise drew his attention.

"I went outside. Still could hear the sound," he said.

He went up the stairs from his ground-floor apartment and zeroed in on the unit above him.

"I tried the doorknob. No response," he said.

Colaricci said then he realized why the alarm was going off inside his neighbor's apartment.

"I could smell grease cooking. I immediately called 911," he said.

Red Cross officials called him a hero. No one knows what might've happened if he hadn't been up so early.

"I guess you could use your imagination. In that situation, I would think that this person might be dead," Colaricci said.

His neighbor thanked him and was clearly shaken by what happened, said Colaricci. However, his neighbor was not physically harmed.

The Red Cross is now helping them with the necessities: a hotel room and some small toiletries.

"He told me once or twice that it hadn't really sunk in yet. But he was doing well, a very positive attitude," said Ray Henderson, a disaster services volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Colaricci's family has checked in on him, he said. And though Christmas was only days away, he knew, in a way, he was lucky.

"I'm thinking about other situations in the United States. Their situations were magnified 1,000 or 2,000 times as bad as what I experienced," he said.

Friends have already invited Colaricci to some Christmas Eve dinners. His friends, family and the Red Cross make Charleston's community really shine this holiday season.

Red Cross officials said this time of year is the busy season for fires, so they want to remind everyone to be careful with those flammable items you may have out around the house, including space heaters and Christmas trees.

The Red Cross is also looking for people who want to become a Hero for Fire Victims by helping neighbors who've been affected by disaster.

To participate, call 843-764-2323 or visit

Each sponsored family costs the Red Cross an average of $1,250, officials said.