Fire at Tempo meant no November issue

Lorraine Briscoe

On Saturday morning, October 8, a tenant in the apartment above the Tempo offices at 317 Knowlton Road called 911 after noticing a burning plastic smell and smoke. Firefighter Ross Clarkson says, “When we opened the door to the Tempo offices, we found it filled with so much smoke that we couldn’t see anything.” André Chouinard, the owner of the building, says, “It is not clear whether the fire was caused by the malfunctioning of the furnace or the dehumidifier in the basement. It was very fortunate that the piping to the hot water tank was plastic and not copper because it melted, and the water leaked out and extinguished the fire. The building would have likely burned down otherwise.” While there was no water damage in the office and upstairs apartment, smoke permeated the walls, and the office contents were covered in soot. Everything, including all the computer equipment, was sent for professional cleaning the following week. Mr. Chouinard had the carpet ripped out, and he advised us that the drywall would need to be redone, which could take up to three months. The upstairs tenant had to move out as well.

Tempo quickly got organized so our customers and readers could reach us. Our loyal advertisers were promptly called to be informed of the situation. The printed issue for November was not going to be possible. This is the third year in a row that Tempo has not been able to produce all ten issues.

A decision needed to be made. Do we wait for the office to be ready in 2023 or find temporary space to produce the important December issue? We decided to go for it and hunt for a temporary office.

After declining Gavin McKay’s generous offer to use his Espace Bonte, a soon-to-be-opened work-sharing place in Knowlton, as well as Jean-Francois Mallette’s offer to set up in the closed restaurant at Place Knowlton, we checked out 549 chemin Knowlton, once the home of Knowlton Aluminum. The owner, Charles-André Bilodeau, was amenable to a month-to-month rental agreement.

A week later, the Tempo team had the new space cleaned, the newly cleaned contents delivered, and the internet hooked up. The next step was to go through approximately 100 boxes to set up the office, hoping that the computer equipment was still functional. It was. Some desks had to be replaced. The move presented an excellent opportunity to purge old files. A month after the fire, we were ready to start working on the December issue, which comes to you with a lot of love and hard work.