updated 08/25/2011 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/25/2011 AT 3:30 PM ET
Kate Winslet and the 90-year-old mother of Richard Branson safely escaped the fire that destroyed the Virgin Group magnate’s Caribbean home on Necker Island, but there was also another surprise survivor: Branson’s pet tortoise.
“We came up to the ruins of the great house and we found our pet tortoise Brutus amongst all the ashes, looking very, very well and healthy,” he said in an interview that aired on Today. “He’ll father many more tortoises on the island.”
Not only did Brutus survive a major blaze, but he also posed for photos afterward with Branson and Winslet, who gleaned a lesson from the frightening experience.
According to the U.K.’s Mirror, Winslet said, “I will never forget Richard placing his arms around my children as we were watching the flames and saying, ‘At the end of the day, what you realize is that all that matters is the people you love. Everything else is just stuff. And none of that stuff matters.’”
[RELATED_TEXT “Can’t get enough pet news? See more on PEOPLE Pets