Kate Winslet escapes blaze on Richard Branson’s private island

Just last month, celebs Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo wed on Virgin Atlantic mogul Richard Branson’s private and tranquil Necker Island in the Caribbean.

Early Monday, chaos erupted when Tropical Storm Irene — now a hurricane — roared in and a lightning strike apparently caused an inferno at the island’s historic Great House, where about 20 people were staying, according to Branson and multiple news reports.

Titanic actress Kate Winslet was among the guests, staying with her two children and boyfriend. The BBC reported that she played a heroine in the fire, helping other guests to safety.

Branson told the BBC and CNN that Winslet helped carry his 90-year-old mother, Eve, to safety when the historic “Great House” caught fire during what Branson termed “a really bad tropical storm.” He said winds were high and that lightning struck the house round 4 a.m.

RELATED: Branson releases photos, vows to rebuild

Branson, who was staying with his wife in another house nearby, says he plans to rebuild. Past guests on the secluded 74-acre island, which is north of Virgin Gorda and has its own website, have included Princess Diana and Steven Spielberg.

The Associated Press reported that Branson had lost thousands of photos stored in an office he maintained in the Great House. “But all my family and friends are well, which in the end is all that really matters,” he said in a statement e-mailed to CNN.

Source : travel.usatoday.com