Guests flee as Branson island blaze destroys home

Guests flee as Branson island blaze destroys home

Twenty people escaped after a lightning strike sparked a blaze which destroyed Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson's luxury home in the Caribbean.

Actress Kate Winslet was among those staying on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands when lightning from a tropical storm hit the house.

Sir Richard's 90-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly were also staying at the property, named the Great House, when the fire broke out in the early hours of yesterday. He said Winslet had helped to carry his mother to safety.

Sir Richard, who was staying at a nearby property with his wife and son, said the fire had “completely destroyed” the building. “My son Sam and nephew Jack rushed to the house and helped get everyone out, and many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90-year-old mum out of the main house to safety,” he said.

“My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs and my note books, which is very sad. But all family and friends are well - which in the end is all that really matters.”

He pledged to rebuild the house, which is rented out and is used as a wedding venue on the island which was acquired in the early 1980s.

“There's a lot of damage but we'll create something even more special out of the ruins,” Sir Richard told the BBC.

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