Fire Quiets Engines At Gulfport Transmission Shop

Hines Garage was nestled in an area surrounded by the Seabee base, a couple of churches, the Gulfport Job Corps complex, and several old homes. It survived the hurricane of 1947 and Hurricane Camille. But it couldn't withstand the fury of Monday morning's fire.

It took 45 minutes to destroy 57 years of hard work and dedication.

"Everything's fine except one thing," Hines Garage owner Frank Hines said. "I hate the man's car got burned up like that."

The torched Lincoln sat on some blocks right next to the charred garage.

Frank Hines father opened the transmission shop in 1947.

"He built it for me," Hines said. "He told me don't let nothing happen to it."

For more than half a century, Hines didn't let his dad down. And then, while Hines was out getting his daily cup of coffee, the unthinkable happened. An area next to the office appeared to be on fire.

"It wasn't that big," Hines said, referring to the initial fire. "When I come open the door to get in there, you open that door and that's when the flames came up."

The sudden burst of air turned small flames into a fireball that ate through the tin garage.

Only after a police officer drove by did Hines leave the burning building. The officer contacted Gulfport firefighters. Hines had bravely tried to extinguish the fire himself.

Afterward, he smiled and said, "Shouldn't have gotten the coffee. If I didn't have get the coffee, it would have been all right."

Gulfport fire officials aren't sure anything could have saved the garage. There were concerns at the scene about whether firefighters had enough water pressure when they first fought the fire.

Chief Pat Sullivan said the fire hydrant questions were being explored. But, he emphasized that nothing could have saved Hines Garage, because it was engulfed in flames before his rescue teams arrived.

So, in a blink of an eye, Hines Garage melted, and part of west Gulfport lost a piece of its history. But Frank Hines didn't lose his spirit.

"I'm going to be like I've been doing. Clean up and go back on the ground. That's where I started, on the ground," he said.

When asked if he would keep fixing transmissions, Hines paused for a second, shook this reporter's hand, and confidently said, "Now, you're right. Now, you're right. I'm going to keep fixing cars."