Jean and Bob Adams were in bed in their Tui Place house on Thursday night when they heard a loud boom, and their house shook to its foundations.
"We thought it was a bomb going off," Mrs Adams said.
In fact the noise came from a large fire at a car wreckers' storage facility on Rogers St, about 1km away.
Mr and Mrs Adams jumped out of bed and rushed outside to see what was going on.
"Our neighbour was outside as well, and as we talked to her the night sky filled with smoke. The wind was howling, coming straight off the coast," she said.
Soon they could see flames leaping.
Mrs Adams said her husband thought a plane had crashed and he climbed a stepladder to get a better view of the scene.
Mrs Adams considered calling emergency services when she saw the flames but decided against it.
"We knew someone much closer than us would have dialled 111. It was such a big thing - the whole of Gonville seemed to be covered in smoke," she said.
Facebook users also commented on the fire:
Jazz Hepi: Sounded like a bomb went off.
Rasta-irie Rastastyarasta: I heard something like that last night too, around 11:30ish, because im not far from there either.
Debra Tunbridge: Yes the house was filled with the smell of burning rubber and we live in Balgownie Ave close to Kings Ave so that's a long way off. Had to close all of my windows.