The Time They Used a Cigarette Lighter to Light the Olympic Torch

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When it comes to the Olympic Flame, its keepers take no chances. Multiple backup sources are lit from the torch so that if the original goes out (which isn’t totally uncommon), it can be reignited using the same fire.

But what happens when the Flame goes out and the backups are nowhere to be found? That’s exactly what happened during the 1976 Montreal Summer Games.

Though Olympic Stadium had been constructed just for the Games, construction strikes halted progress on the building, leaving the roof and tower unfinished. In fact, patrons of Olympic Stadium didn’t have a proper roof over their heads until more than a decade later.

This proved problematic when an unexpected rainstorm hit a few days into the Games, extinguishing the unprotected Olympic Flame. No events were scheduled at that particular venue for the day, so the bearers of the backups were nowhere to be found. “Use what you got,” onsite plumber M. Pierre Bouchard must have figured, and pulled a cigarette lighter from his pocket.

When Olympic officials found out about the incident shortly thereafter, the not-so-distinguished Flame was put out and relit with a proper backup.

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August 1, 2012 - 7:01am
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