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By DAMIEN GAYLE, dailymail.co.uk / Last updated at 6:42 PM on 22nd August 2011.
Hero of the hour: Actress Kate Winslet, left, and her young children were among the guests rescued by Sir Richard's son Sam, right, after the fire broke out on Necker Island.
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Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet was among guests forced to flee after a fire sparked by a lightning strike swept through Richard Branson's opulent home on the tycoon's private Caribbean island.
Sir Richard said about 20 people were staying in the eight-bedroom Great House on Necker, his private isle in the British Virgin Islands. The fire is still raging in the building.
Sir Richard's daughter, Holly, who is due to marry shipbroker Freddie Andrews on the island later this year, and his 90-year-old mother, Eve, were also among guests forced to flee the Great House.
The Virgin entrepreneur, 61, his wife, Joan, and son, Sam, were on the island but were staying in another property around 100 yards away when the fire broke out last night.
He said the fire broke out during a storm, and Sam managed to help evacuate Winslet and other guests. The house was 'completely destroyed', he added, and the fire was not yet entirely extinguished this morning.
In recent days, the Caribbean has been buffeted by tropical storms, with the one passing over Necker Island last night today picking up speed to become the first hurricane of the season.
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