WEST GARDINER — Norman Lacroix got home from work Saturday to find his family’s home of 36 years on fire and his wife, Cheryl, about to be taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Fire heavily damaged the couple’s Hallowell-Litchfield Road home Saturday afternoon.

Norman Lacroix spoke to his wife only briefly after he arrived at the fire scene, before she was taken to the hospital. He said she was able to talk but firefighters wanted her to get checked out to make sure she was OK.

One of the couple’s two more-than-10-year-old cats died in the fire, while the other was taken, in a Gardiner Fire Department ladder truck, from the scene to be seen by a local veterinarian.

“We’ve had them since they were kittens. They were brother and sister,” Lacroix said of the cats.

The blaze at the home, near Fuller’s Market, was reported at 12:45 p.m. and is believed to have started in a kitchen at a residence, according to firefighters on scene.

Earle McCormick, a West Gardiner selectman and former state senator who lives across the street from the Lacroixs, saw smoke and heard Cheryl Lacroix yell from the house, “Get help! Call the Fire Department! My house is on fire.”

McCormick said his neighbor was worried about her cats and went back into the house, after she had gotten out initially, a few times before firefighters arrived on the scene.

Several departments’ firefighters, including those from West Gardiner, Pittston, Farmingdale and Gardiner, responded to the fire, which was under control around 1:45 p.m.

Vicki Dill, a West Gardiner firefighter and former chief, said the state fire marshal was called to the scene to help determine the cause.

Lacroix said his wife told him she wasn’t sure what happened to cause the fire.

He said the kitchen was a total loss, and other rooms sustained smoke and water damage.

He said the home is insured.

Hallowell-Litchfield Road was closed early Saturday afternoon as firefighters battled the blaze.

Lacroix was returning from his job at Bath Iron Works when he neared Fuller’s Market and saw smoke coming from his house.

He said he plans to repair the home or build a new one on the same site.

“I raised my family here,” Lacroix said as firefighters cleaned up at the scene Saturday afternoon. “It’s a nice neighborhood, nice neighbors. That’s how this town is.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647[email protected]