Fire destroys Richard Branson’s island house after lightning strike during Irene

August 23rd, 2011 - 2:38 pm ICT by BNO News  

SAN JUAN (BNO NEWS) — Twenty people escaped a fire sparked by lightning which broke out in Virgin tycoon Richard Branson’s private island house in the Caribbean on early Monday, he said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Branson said 20 people were in his house at the moment of the fire, including British actress Kate Winslet and Branson’s 90-year old mother. They all managed to escape unharmed.

According to Branson, the house on Necker Island was hit by a lightning strike at around 4 a.m. local time when category one Hurricane Irene moved through the area. The island, part of the British Virgin Islands, is located just north of Virgin Gorda.

The main house was destroyed, including Branson’s office where he kept thousands of photographs and notebooks which were lost in the fire. “But all family and friends are well, which in the end is all that really matters,” he said.

“We will 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. There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins,” he added.

Richard Branson is one of UK’s richest persons. He owns the Virgin Group, a conglomerate of companies which focus on entertainment, travel and lifestyle. His business started in the 1970s when Branson and a partner founded the music label Virgin Records.

Branson owns Necker Island since 1978 and operates it as a resort which can accommodate up to 28 guests. Parts of it, however, are public beaches under British Virgin Islands law but Branson’s security personnel often make it difficult for members of the public to enjoy the beaches.

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