Real Housewife’s LA wildfire hell
A FORTNIGHT has passed since parts of Los Angeles were ravaged by fire and Kyle Richards is counting her blessings.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star says she is still haunted by the fury of the Skirball wildfire which destroyed her childhood home in Bel Air.
During the crisis, Richards, husband Mauricio Umansky and her four daughters were under threat.
"My area was completely evacuated but my home and my friends' homes were all fine," Richards says.
"However, my childhood home that my parents built in Bel Air - where I lived from the time I was two until I was 18 - burned down.
"It was very sad. I didn't expect it to be (so upset) because I hadn't lived there for so long but all my memories of growing up were from there.
"Even now (as an adult) when I dream it is always in that home for some reason so I had to drive by (to see it destroyed).
"A lot of people have been displaced and lost everything. It was absolutely terrifying. My 17-year-old daughter (Sophia) had so much anxiety.
"She said mum, I can hear the sirens, can we please get out of here and I said there's nowhere for us to go because the freeways are closed so we couldn't get out if we wanted.
"We really felt trapped because we didn't know whether the fires were going to come to my house or my friends on the other side of the hill. Everybody had a bag packed ready to go. It was very scary."
This season Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, the daughter of rocker John Mellencamp, joins the show.
Returning housewives are Erika Girari, Dorit Kemsley, and Lisa Rinna.
Former cast member Camille Grammer also features this season.
"I have really connected with Teddi and I've tried to give her the best advice," Richards says. "Our most recent conversation had to do with online bullying. When you're not used to that it can be very painful no matter who you are - no matter how strong. You think 'I didn't know people (trolls) like that existed - am I that bad?'
"It is about Teddi learning how to navigate through that - not to read things, to take things with a grain of salt and to know that everyone in the public eye goes through that unfortunately.
"My thick skin just naturally grew. At the beginning it was very hard for me. Some of the mean things that are said - I will take screen shots and crack up laughing - they are so mean and awful.
"Now it makes me laugh but when you're new to it, it is like 'oh my god'."
Richards and Lisa Vanderpump are the only two original cast left on season eight.
"Lisa and I have a lot of fun together," Richards says. "That doesn't mean we don't have our moments and this season we have them as well. But I love her. We have a similar sense of humour.
"Housewives has been good to me. It has opened a lot of doors for me. I would not be producing the television shows I'm doing now without it. I'm very grateful about that.
"Reality television has a negative connotation but this group of women are all great women. That doesn't mean we don't have our problems but they are all smart and hardworking and mums. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of them.
"I feel like our franchise sends a good message. I can hold my head up high. We're normal women with complicated relationships but we're good people.
"When it's not fun I won't do it anymore but for now I still enjoy doing it even though it is crazy sometimes. I'm certainly not going to abandon ship yet."