What’s now been confirmed as a suspicious fire damaged the house in southwest Iowa that’s featured in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County” this morning, leaving residents in the county burning with anger. Chris Nolte is the director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, and says anger and sadness are the two most prevalent feelings in the county at this time. Today’s fire at the tourist attraction known as “Francesca’s House” comes after an arson fire destroyed one of Madison County’s historic covered bridges in September of 2002. Nolte says the latest fire raises questions again about the motive.He says it’s not the Chamber’s position to be involved in law enforcement or speculate, but he says it does make people wonder if it was someone local, or someone who came in from the interstate. The county is gearing up for this weekend’s annual festival, and Nolte says the latest fire won’t have any impact on the weekend events. He says they’ve been planning the 34th annual festival for weeks and they’re moving ahead anticipating a great weekend of events. The festival and bridges gained worldwide attention from Robert Waller’s book and then the bridges movie. Nolte says the spotlight might have dimmed some, but the interest hasn’t.He says the actual number of motor coach tours has gone down in the last few years , but the number of tourists has held steady as people now come in cars on day tours. One corner of the two-story wood-frame home was scorched and flames were coming out the roof, but fire crews from four surrounding towns responded and doused the fire this morning.
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