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Natural gas from a leak that caused the evacuation of 20 Orem homes Friday morning, was still lingering in the sewer system by Friday evening, forcing the occupants of three homes to spend the night in a hotel.

Questar Gas spokesman Darren Shepherd said the company began getting reports of strong gas odors in eight homes in the area at about 4 a.m. Friday. By 8:30 a.m., the company identified 20 homes affected by the leak in the area of 400 North and 1000 East. Shepherd said residents of those homes were evacuated. Those who didn't go to work or school were put up in a nearby hotel.

"We're not picking up gas anywhere beyond the evacuated area," Shepherd said. Shepherd said workers were able to trace the leak to one section of pipe that was later isolated. Crews will begin repairing the leak itself once all the gas has been allowed to escape from underground, a process that was taking longer than usual because of the cold.

Shepherd said most of the gas had migrated to sewers, and workers had lifted manholes in the street to let the gas dissipate. He said crews also would use special suction equipment overnight to remove the gas from underground.

Except for the three families living closest to the leak, most of the people in the affected area were allowed to return home by Friday afternoon.

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