The actress, her boyfriend and two children were staying as guests of the tycoon when a devastating fire broke out
Kate Winslet and her children were among guests who escaped a devastating fire at Richard Branson’s holiday home on Necker Island last night, after lightning struck the luxury holiday home.
The actress, children Mia, ten and seven-year-old Joe and boyfriend – reported to be model Louis Dowler – were staying as guests of Richard Branson at the private property, along with other friends, and Richard’s wife, mother, daughter Holly and son Sam.
Speaking of the dramatic event, which occurred when island was hit by a 90mph hurricane, Branson said: ‘Around 20 people were in the house and they all managed to get out and they are all fine.
‘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.’
Speaking of Winslet’s dramatic role in the rescue efforts, he continued: ‘It was she who carried my mother out of the house. She said it was like being on a film set where you’re waiting for the words “cut” but they just don’t come. So it was quite surreal for her to be in a real-life situation.
‘She carried my Mum out of the house. My Mum is 90 and can walk but it was more just to speed the process up than anything else but anyway, she was great. She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible.’
Today the media tycoon – who was hoping to host daughter Holly’s November wedding on the island – said rebuilding the aptly named Great House is at the forefront of his mind.
‘It’s very much the Dunkirk Spirit here,’ he said. ‘We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can. We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work.
‘We’ll all stay here for the time being. There’s a lot of damage and we won’t be able to stick it back together again right away. It was a beautiful house.
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‘We will rebuild the house as soon as we can. There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins.’