Branson’s house on Necker Island burns down in a fire as the area is hit by Hurricane Irene. Winslet is among the guests, and carries Branson’s 90-year-old mother, Eve, to safety after his son Sam alerts them to the blaze. Branson:
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.