Residents at homes in Mount Maunganui have been forced to evacuate after a gas leak this afternoon.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand communications spokesman said contractors damaged a gas main while doing work on Wells Avenue.

The spokesman said firefighters were alerted about 2.15pm and evacuated the nearby area.

A reporter at the scene said the street had been cordoned off at Terrace Ave and a faint smell of gas was in the air.

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Street lights were being replaced on Wells Ave when a hole was put in a 50mm gas main.

Firefighters using gas monitors were evaluating the situation.