Residents are back in their homes Sunday afternoon in a North Windham neighborhood that was evacuated this morning after a gas leak was discovered in an underground gas line.

Windham Fire Chief Charles Hammond said the leak was discovered at about 4:45 a.m. by the occupants of a house on Abby Lane, a residential neighborhood behind the North Windham Shopping Center on Roosevelt Trail, also known as Route 302.

Hammond said the occupants detected a strong smell.

The fire department evacuated surrounding homes, including a four-unit apartment building and two houses, while a repair crew from Maine Natural Gas worked to fix the leak. Firefighters kept people away from the repair area, where the danger of an explosion from the leak remained high, Hammond said.

Residents were allowed back into their homes at about 12:30 p.m.

The crew located the leak and stopped the flow of gas in the line before making repairs. Hammond said.

Beth Quimby can be reached at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com