Torere local Hiro Mackay had just climbed back into bed after an early morning visit to the bathroom when an "explosion" had her jumping straight back out.
MacKay said she rushed to the window about 2.30am on Sunday to try and find the source of the "bomb-like" explosion and was greeted with an orange wall of flames from her neighbour's home.
"There was a building that he [the neighbour] built not so long ago that was on fire. The flames were huge."
She said her son called emergency services before trying to find the car keys.
"In only a matter of minutes the boundary fence separating our property from the neighbours was on fire and then our garage started burning too," MacKay said.
"My son was running around trying to find the car keys [the car was parked in the garage] before he remembered he had left them in the car."
Concerned about who was at home next door, Mackay and her son went outside and found the partner of the homeowner being comforted by a friend.
"We were told the owner was in Whakatāne when the fire started."
She said the fire burned the initial shed, plus additional sheds, two caravans and also the home on the property.
"I think it took about an hour for the fire crews to get to the scene but they did an amazing job. The wind was strong and it made things a lot harder for the firefighters."
At least 20 firefighters from Ōpōtiki, Taneatua, Ohope, Whakatāne, and a water tanker from Edgecumbe attended the fire off SH35 between Wainui and Te Waiiti Rds.
Ōpōtiki fire chief Rowan Newell said the property was 22km from Ōpōtiki in a residential area and, due to the blustery conditions, fighting the fire proved difficult.
"It took some time to put the fire out due to the windy conditions, and also the need to access water from a private source as well as our appliances," Newell said.
"Our priority was to ensure we also protected the houses on either side from exposure to the well-involved fire ... it has totally destroyed four sheds, including a workshop containing tools and equipment, two caravans and the house on the property."
On the Ōpōtiki Volunteer Fire Brigade Facebook page, the scene confronting firefighters was described as "almost apocalyptic".
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus also found a dog sheltering in his kennel at the rear of the property, surrounded by the burning building, fences and grass. The dog, named Boyboiz, was carried out uninjured and reunited with his owner.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by specialist fire investigator Luke Burgess.