By REBECCA ENGLISH and DAVID GARDNER
Devastation: Sir Richard said about 20 people, including Kate Winslet, were staying in the eight-bedroom Great House on Necker, his private isle in the British Virgin Islands
Kate Winslet and her children were among VIP guests forced to flee Sir Richard Branson’s luxury Caribbean home after a night-time blaze ripped through the building.
The multi-million-pound Great House on Necker, the Virgin tycoon’s £60million private island, was struck by lightning in the early hours of Monday when the region was battered by 90mph Hurricane Irene.
Flames quickly ravaged the wood and stone mansion forcing those inside, which included Miss Winslet and her two young children, to run for their lives in their pyjamas.
Blaze: Guests watch helplessly as the home of Richard Branson burns on his private Necker Island
According to Sir Richard, courageous Miss Winslet acted like a true Hollywood heroine as she swept his 90-year-old mother Eve into her arms and helped carry her to safety as the mansion crumbled around them.
Also present in the 20-strong party was Sir Richard’s 29-year-old daughter Holly, who had been due to marry at the eight-bedroom property, which boasts stunning views of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, on November 20.
Inferno: Fire rages at the luxury property but thankfully all guests managed to flee to safety
Sir Richard, 61, was staying in another villa around 100 yards away with his wife Joan and son Sam and apparently ran naked towards the flames shortly after 4am.
Sam, 25, who had heard explosions coming from the house and raised the alarm, bravely rushed inside to help the guests get out. Fortunately there were no injuries.
Sir Richard said: ‘Around 20 people were in the house and they all managed to get out and they are all fine.
Hero of the hour: Actress Kate Winslet, left, and her young children were among the guests rescued by Sir Richard's son Sam, right, after the fire broke out on Necker Island
‘We had a really bad tropical storm with winds up to 90mph. A big lightning storm came around 4am and hit the house. It took hold incredibly quickly, with flames 100ft high. It ripped through the house very quickly.
‘Sam heard explosions in the main house and raised the alarm. He and my nephew Jack rushed to the house and helped get everyone out.
‘Kate Winslet, her boyfriend and her family were there and Holly and some of her friends were also staying. My mother was there and they managed to get her out and she is fine.
‘The main house is completely destroyed and the fire is not yet completely out. My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs and my notebooks, which is very sad. But all family and friends are well – which in the end is all that really matters.’
'Completely destroyed': Sir Richard says his son, Sam, helped to evacuate some guests from the house
Exotic breaks: Richard Branson pictured with his parents Edward and Eve Branson in Morocco
Destroyed: Richard Branson's luxury home was hit by lightning last night during tropical storms in the Caribbean
Idyllic: Sir Richard says the fire, which broke out during a storm, has devastated the property
Airy: The living room of the Great House on Necker Island
Spacious: One of the eight bedrooms in the Virgin tycoon's luxury property
Necker Island is a private isle which Branson has owned since the eary Eighties, the locator map, right, shows its location in the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean sea
Tropical paradise: Sir Richard's daughter Holly was due to get married on the island later this year
Family of adventurers: Sir Richard Branson with his family, left to right, Sam Branson, Ivo Branson and Holly Branson before his attempt to kitesurf across the English Channel at Dungeness, Kent
Home » Celebrities » Entertainment » News Update » Rescue from inferno at Branson's Necker Island: Hero Kate Winslet carries Virgin boss's mother, 90, to safety after lightning strike
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