Adventure

Branson's Island Mansion Burns

Fire caused by lightning strike

A fire started by a lightning strike destroyed a $70 million mansion on Richard Branson's private Caribbean island yesterday. Twenty houseguests, including actress Kate Winslet, were staying at Great House on Necker Island when the fire occurred. Winslet helped carry Branson's 90-year-old mother to safety through 80-mile-per-hour winds, and Branson's son Sam helped to evacuate other guests; all escaped without injury. The U.S. National Hurricane Center attributed the fire to a lightning storm that was caused by Hurricane Irene, although the exact cause of the fire is still being investigated. Branson, who was staying in an adjacent property, said he lost photographs and notebooks from his office, which was in the house. The Virgin Group mogul and adventurer wrote on his blog that he plans to stay in the British Virgin Islands and rebuild the mansion as soon as possible. "There's a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins," he said.


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