Kate Winslet Hailed as a Hero For House Fire Rescue

Kate Winslet Hailed as a Hero For House Fire Rescue

Tycoon Richard Branson praised Kate Winslet today. She rescued his 90-year-old mom from the inferno that engulfed his luxury retreat.

INSIDE EDITION's Diane McInerney spoke with Branson by phone.

"She's a great friend and has been fantastic. We've already given her lots of hugs and kisses. We're very grateful for what she did for Mom," said Branson.

Winslet, her kids, and 17 other guests were sleeping when the mansion caught fire early Monday morning. It was apparently struck by lightning as Hurricane Irene, which is now set to slam the East Coast, battered Necker Island, Branson's 74-acre private island in the Caribbean.

"Fortunately, one of them woke up and managed to get everybody else out just in time," said Branson.

"What role did Kate play in rescuing your mom?" asked McInerney.

"She picked her up and carried her down the steps and made sure everyone got to safety," said Branson.

Just last month, singer Nick Lachey and Vanessa Manillo were married on Necker Island. There is a huge open living room, and the dining table set for 24. It truly was the gold standard for luxury living.

Today, all that's left of the great house is a charred ruin, still smoldering.

Branson, whose daughter Holly was planning on getting married on the island later this year, told McInerney he will rebuild.

"We are already planning what we're going to build on the site. It's going to be bigger and better," said Branson.