Hundreds of customers of United Savings Bank waited in line for hours yesterday and Saturday to take their money out of the troubled thrift's 15 Northern Virginia offices.

United President Stanley Burns said there were no problems meeting the unusually heavy depositor demand, which began after United announced Friday that it lost $9.8 million in the second quarter and was nearly insolvent.

"We had a very busy day, and on Saturday we had a busy day," Burns said. "But we met the needs of everybody."

Branches stayed open late Saturday to handle the crowds, and yesterday, lines had formed at several locations even before the doors opened at 9 a.m. Although accounts of up to $100,000 are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., customers said they wanted to move their money where they felt it would be safer.

"I need my money," said Andy Gibson of Burke. "I was afraid that if they froze my account, I couldn't pay my rent" -- although federal regulators said accounts would not be frozen.

Gibson closed his checking account Saturday after an hour-long wait at the Twinbrook Shopping Center branch on Braddock Road in Fairfax. Yesterday, he brought in a friend to do the same. "I know the money's insured," Gibson said. "But I thought this was the best thing."

For the most part, people waited patiently at the various branches, taking numbers to be waited on and reading books or newspapers. United had extra security guards on hand for the rush of business.

Federal regulators said the number of withdrawals at United was unusual, and they attributed the reaction to depositors unused to dealing with troubled S&Ls. However, they declined to comment on whether the government would step in and take control of United, which had assets of $421.7 million as of June 30.

"What we're seeing at United is a stronger depositor reaction than usual," said Bill Fulwider, spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), which regulates savings and loans. "Consumers in this area don't have anything to draw on. In Texas {where so many thrifts have failed}, when a savings and loan reports a bad quarter, it's, 'So, what else is new?' "

Fulwider said regulators were carefully monitoring the situation.

"We are always concerned about runs on an institution," he said. "We will not allow it to reach a point where depositors have to be turned away."

"Just the fact that United has continued to meet this heavy demand in the past few days should be reassuring to customers," said Janice Smith, another OTS official. "While we certainly aren't encouraging depositors to go run out and close their accounts, we want to let them know it's there for the asking."

Although the scene at United's branches yesterday was reminiscent of the Maryland savings and loan crisis five years ago, Fulwider said its situation is much different from the plight of the failed Maryland thrifts, which were insured by the state. When Maryland depositors panicked in 1985, thousands of deposits were frozen for months because the state insurance fund could not handle the withdrawals.

Fulwider said United's accounts would never be frozen and customers would continue to have access to their funds, even if federal regulators take control of the institution. "In all of the problems that have developed over the years, there has yet to be one single customer who didn't receive their insured deposits," he said.

United tellers tried Saturday and yesterday to dissuade customers from closing accounts, explaining to them the process of a federal takeover and emphasizing that the accounts are insured. But few people appeared to be taking their advice.