Fire broke out last night at Richard Branson’s Caribbean Great House on Necker, his private isle in the British Virgin Islands.
Actress Kate Winslet was among the Richard Branson’s 20 guests who were forced to run after a fire sparked by a lightning strike swept through the Virgin’s boss opulent home on the tycoon’s private Caribbean island.[googlead tip=”patrat_mare”]
Richard Branson said about 20 guests were accommodated in the eight-bedroom Great House on Necker, where fire broke up.
Richard Branson’s daughter, Holly, who will marry shipbroker Freddie Andrews on the island at the end of this year, and his 90-year-old mother, Eve, were also among guests forced to flee the Great House.
The Virgin’s boss, 61, his wife, Joan, and son, Sam, were on the island but were staying in another house about 100 meters away from Great House.
Richard Branson said the fire broke out during a storm, and his son Sam managed to help evacuate Kate Winslet and other guests.
“The Great House was completely destroyed and the fire was not yet entirely extinguished this morning.”
Caribbean has been buffeted by tropical storms in recent days, with the one passing over Necker Island last night today picking up speed to become the first hurricane of the season.[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]
Hurricane Irene hit Puerto Rico this morning, sending residents fleeing for shelter in refuges and knocking out electricity across half of the US administered island, including the capital San Juan.
From his ablaze Great House on Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson said:
“We had a really bad tropical storm with winds up to 90mph. A big lightning storm came around 4am and hit the house.
My son Sam 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.
Many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90 year mum out of the main house to safety – she was wondering when a Director was going to shout CUT!
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 note books which is very sad.
But all family and friends are well – which in the end is all that really matters.”
Sir Richard Branson added:
“It’s very much the Dunkirk spirit here. 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. There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins.
Thanks again for all the kind messages you have sent – they mean a lot.
Currently just huddled up with family and friends in the continuing tropical storm realizing what really matters in life.”
According to a Virgin spokesman today’s statement:
“In the early hours of this morning, a fire took place on Necker Island, causing substantial damage to the Great House.
While the cause at this stage is unknown, it is thought most likely due to a lightning strike.
While substantial damage was caused to the building, no guests or members of the Necker Island staff were hurt.
Sir Richard Branson, members of his family and guests were on the island at the time.
They are all safe and currently being accommodated elsewhere on the island.”
[googlead tip=”lista_medie” aliniat=”stanga”]Richard Branson bought Necker Island in the early 1980s, when he was just 28, and work on the Great House began in 1982.
3 years of work and an estimated $10million turned into a private island retreat.
In 2010, Richard Branson gave Oprah Winfrey show presenter Nate Berkus a tour of island. He told Nate Berkus the reason of buying the island was the pursuit of his wife, Joan.
“I was about 26-years-old, I was chasing this beautiful lady, trying to persuade her to come live with me and we discovered this beautiful island.
I somehow managed to get the island, get the lady and get the mother of my children.
I appreciate every moment of my life. I was born under a lucky star.”
The Necker Island complex is used by the Branson family as well as friends, but can also be rented out – but at huge prices.
The complex offers accommodation for 28 people and could be hired at $53,000 to $54,000 a day.
The price includes 2 private beaches, private pools, tennis courts, breathtaking views, a personal chef, about 60 staff and a wide array of water sports equipment.
Each bedroom has its own balcony, four-poster bed and en-suite bathroom.
All have open walls giving a 360-degree view and cooling winds from any direction in the house.