Fire Destroys Gulfport Business

Flames as high as 30 feet shot through the roof while paint cans shot across the street from Gulfport Hardware during a fire Thursday night.

Witnesses heard paint cans explode from inside Gulfport Hardware Thursday night. Two Gulfport Police Officers were on a routine patrol on Gulfport Boulevard when they spotted the flames around 8:30 p.m.

As of 11 p.m. Gulfport Blvd was blocked off to traffic as firefighters continued to sift through the business and put out hot spots with a water cannon 50 feet in the air.

The owner, David Cretella, has been accounted for according to his son David. The fire happened after hours and David says his father was at home.

The owner's son, David, says his father has had Gulfport Hardware for about 6 to 7 years.

"It's terrible that it happened. Everything can be replaced, I'm just glad he's alright," David, the owner's son, said.

As far as he knows, no one was inside. However, officials have not released details about injuries or casualties as of 11 p.m. Thursday night. 

Stay with Gulfport Patch for updates about this story.

Nettle Greenman October 19, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Great photos. Rob, your photos are so sharp for night photos!
Lori Rosso October 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Cherlene, if you are in touch with the family today please let them know that the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce is here to offer assistance in whatever form we can. They can contact me directly at the Sea Breeze Manor today (not the office, which I don't know we will have access to anyway).
Rob Fowler October 19, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I just checked the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce Office and we do have access. Inside there is no smoke damage nor any other sign that there was a fire in the shopping center. Outsode they do have the Hardware store parking taped off and the Gulfport PD was parked keeping en eye on things.
Rob Fowler October 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Thanks! But you do not see the 100 or so that are blurry. :)
Philip Penrose October 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Very sorry to see this happened to the business. I hope they are able to start over again.
Linda Craig October 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Cherlene... my sentiments mimmick Lori's. Not only as a board memeber but as a business owner. My heart goes out to the owner and his family. If there is any way I can help I will be there. Also... hats off to the GPD and the GFD for their rapid response. I'm sure their actions helped to save the surrounding businesses and homes. We should all pull together as a community.
Lori Rosso October 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM
The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce office in the same complex will be open for business today.
Phil October 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Really sorry to see this happen to such a wonderful local business and family. I do hope they can rebuild.
Rob Fowler October 19, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Theresa and I heard explosions where we live four blocks away. (I told Theresa that it sounded like a snow plow scraping its blade on dry pavement right next door.) After hearing sirens I looked at my iPhone 911 Active Call app and saw that over emergency 22 units were on the way to Gulfport Hardware! There were at least 31 emergency vehicles on scene while I was there for an hour or two. Amazing nobody was hurt, including onlookers as paint cans shot from the building. The responders did a great job. Thank you from all of us!
Cherlene Willis October 19, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Rob, Thank you so much for uploading your photos from last night! WOW, they are really good. - Cherlene
Joyce Kwasiborski October 19, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Dear Dave and Kim - you are two absolutely wonderful and most professional people and nothing like this horrendous event should have happened to you. My prayers go out to you during this most trying time. My best hope is that you are able to regroup and reopen what I consider to be Gulfport's most useful store, run by Gulfport's kindest and most helpful proprietors. Good luck, guys!
Lynda October 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Rob, I love the picture of the woman handing out water to the firefighters. I haven't seen a fire scene picture like that before. Does anyone know if she was a volunteer or part of the fire team response? In any case, a great idea to keep the fire fighters healthy. Like many in customers we give 5 stars to the services of the hardware store so certainly hope it is back in business soon.
Hairball Spencer October 19, 2012 at 09:35 PM
i've known dave for over 25 years , was really nice to see the mom n pop type hardware store back in the area , i know for a fact that dave had put his heart and soul into that business to make it bigger and better , i saw him this morning out front of the shop , and it was heart wrenching to see him so heartbroken , i hope he can rebuild and go on with his dream .... i am a frequent visitor to his hardware store , and we need to pull together as a community to do whatever we can to help him... ,
Rob Fowler October 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
The kind "woman" is actually Elizabeth-Brown Worthington (Teen Council CERT), one of Gulfport's future mayors. Her dad, Louis, is also in the picture. He is the interesting looking character with the unlit cigar dangling from his mouth. CERT is a valuable support emergency structure for local communities and our Gulfport CERT is always looking for energetic and caring volunteers. By the way, CERT stands for "Community Emergency Response Team" and provides training and certifications for participants. Both Theresa and I passed the course and have the knowledge to help our neighbors during an emergency. You'd be a natural, Lynda! Consider signing up! Handing water to thirsty fire fighters is just the tip of the iceberg of what you will be able to do when needed.
Matt Spencer October 20, 2012 at 12:53 PM
ARSON I Tell Ya..ARSON!! No way an Accident..Dig Deeper,someone could have gotten killed here including all rescue Personnel and Bystanders!! I hope the Perp Is Caught!! ARSON!!
Michael Knettel Sr October 23, 2012 at 07:38 PM
It's a sad state of affairs when we all thought that the stores owner was a victim of such a bad fire; then we all find that he is the cause of it. Lives were put at risk. The brave fire fighters that put their lives on the line every day to help save our lives and property were subjected to this same danger at the hands of the store's owner. If business was that bad just close the doors and the community would have embraced him for at least trying. I for one am upset that he caused so much damage to a building that wasn't his and put the lives and property of so many in harms way.


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