The Elite Bull Competition was stopped almost before it started Saturday evening as a fast-moving thunderstorm invaded the Bitterroot Valley from the south Saturday evening.

According to the Associated Press, a lightning bolt struck a power pole at the arena on the north end of Darby shortly after the competition had started.

The electric charge spread in every direction, according to Bull-O-Rama chairman Cal Ruark.

A bull rider and two spectators were taken to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. They were conscious and alert when they were loaded into the ambulance. A rodeo announcer had hand burns from holding a microphone when the lightning struck. Any other injuries among the hundreds of spectators were not as severe, apparently.

The bull riding event was re-scheduled for  1pm Sunday.

The storm was part of a system that come up from the south and collided with a cold front coming from the northwest. Strong winds and lightning were reported throughout Western Montana Saturday evening.