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Sewickley Valley rallies to aid 'local celebrity' displaced by fire

| Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 2:21 p.m.
Bobby Cherry | Sewickley Herald
Firefighters from Sewickley's Cochran Hose Co. attempt to put out a fire at 401 Broad St. from atop a ladder truck on Friday, June 13, 2014.

As crews investigate the June 13 fire at 401 Broad St., local business owners and workers are helping one of the building's tenants find new housing.

Elmer Bohr — known around Sewickley for dressing as Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the borough's Light Up Night; Scooby-Doo at Sewickley Unleashed; and Spider-Man in the town's Halloween parade — is a “local celebrity,” said Tiffany Drey, a co-worker of Bohr's at Yankello's Video & Audio on Beaver Street.

Drey is collecting items and money to help Bohr, who is in his 60s and is developmentally disabled, to find a new place to call home.

A fundraiser is planned Sunday at Sewickley Cafe.

“He lived there for 14 years,” she said. “Even if it's salvageable from smoke and water damage, it's going to be awhile before he can go in there.”

The damaged building contained residential units and the Howard Hanna offices. Two other displaced residents are living with family, officials said.

Hours after the fire, Drey said she began looking for other places for Bohr to live.

“The cheapest thing I've seen (in Sewickley) is around $500 a month,” she said, adding that Bohr paid under $300 to live above Howard Hanna. “We're trying to get the word out there that maybe someone has an empty basement, apartment or studio that someone would be able to donate.”

Bohr temporarily is living with a family he met at St. James Catholic Church, both Drey and the Rev. Thomas Burke said.

The family, who was not identified, could not be reached for comment.

The building's owner, Bruno Crapis, could not be reached.

Drey said she hopes people will support efforts to help Bohr live elsewhere within walking distance to Sewickley's business district.

“He gives back what he can to the town of Sewickley,” she said. “Now, we're hoping Sewickley can give back to him.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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