WINTERSET, Iowa (AP) — An iconic Madison County, Iowa, covered bridge — pictured on the cover of the best-selling novel "The Bridges of Madison County" — has been destroyed by fire, and authorities say they suspect it was intentionally set.

The fire at the Cedar Bridge was reported around 6 a.m. Saturday, the Madison County Sheriff's Office told the Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/2pj5Yk9 ).

Officials said the bridge was fully engulfed by the time firefighters got to the scene near Winterset in south-central Iowa.

There was no electricity or light source at the bridge and no severe weather or lightning in the area, so the fire will be investigated as arson, Madison County Sheriff Jason Barnes said.

"It's pretty bad," Barnes said. "When you think of Madison County, you think of those bridges. It's a direct attack."

The original Cedar Bridge was built in 1883 before it burned in 2002. Investigators determined the fire to be arson, but no arrests were ever made. About a year later, another Madison County bridge was the target of arsonists, but sustained only minor damage.

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The Cedar Bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 2004. It was featured in the 1995 movie adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County," starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. The novel was written by Robert James Waller, who died in March.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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