07/01/2012 AT 4:40 PM ET
As one of the stars of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Adrienne Maloof is no stranger to drama. But it was a different kind of excitement for the production when a fire broke out across the street from her mansion.
“I looked and saw smoke and I thought it was the barbecue. But all of a sudden the smoke got heavier,” Maloof tells PEOPLE after Friday’s fire.
“I ran to the front and looked out of my front and Lisa’s [old] house was on fire. I went back and started screaming ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got to get out of here!’”
Maloof was in the middle of filming a scene in her backyard when flames engulfed the former home of her costar Lisa Vanderpump, who sold it last fall for a reported $20 million.
Maloof and neighbors evacuated the community while more than 120 firefighters battled the blaze, whose smoke and flames filled the skies above the tony neighborhood within a matter of minutes.
“The sky went from light gray to dark grey to black and massive flames within seconds. Helicopters and fire trucks and firefighters came rushing into the neighborhood,” Maloof says. “The fire was so close to our gate that I could feel the heat on my face. I was coughing, the kids were crying. I didn’t even have time to take my microphone off. I went into mama gear and I got the kids, the dog, the cat and we went to my mother’s house.”
The fire was contained early Friday evening, but the trauma of witnessing it lingers.
“It was crazy that a house of that magnitude could go up in flames so quickly. The fear with a fire like that is you really don’t know how much time you have or how quickly it will move, especially being in the mountain like we are. I have not spoken about the house situation with Lisa yet, though I’m sure she’s a little upset about what happened,” explains Maloof, adding, “What something like this does is it puts into perspective how quickly a disaster can happen and how important it is to be prepared. It reiterated in my mind that I will take those steps to get our house safe for any disaster, fire being one of them.”