A box containing chemicals for a science class at Lee High School in Springfield was accidentally dropped at the school's front entrance yesterday, causing fumes to escape and sending four people to area hospitals for observation, according to fire officials.

The four, none of whom were students, were treated for inhalation of fumes and released after the 12:30 p.m. incident, according to Sgt. Lawrence A. Hanger of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

"The fumes were outside, and the kids were inside," said Dolores Bohen, a school spokeswoman.

Bohen said that the school was not evacuated, but students in classrooms at the front of the building were moved to another location and windows and doors were shut.

After a school truck delivered the chemicals to the school at 6540 Franconia Rd., a worker dropped a box containing two glass cylinders of hydrochloric acid and methanol, Hanger said.

Five liters of hydrochloric acid, a nonflammable liquid that is highly corrosive, and four liters of methanol, a flammable liquid, splattered on the ground, he said.

Members of the county's Hazardous Materials Response Team donned green "splash suits" and self-contained breathing apparatus and neutralized the acid, Hanger said. He said the chemicals were placed in a drum and sealed and would be disposed of.

Hanger said the school was not evacuated because of the relatively small size of the spill and the fact that the wind was blowing away from where it occurred. He said that everything was back in service by the end of the school day and the fire equipment left the scene.

"I was really scared at first," said Becky Bonzano, 15, an 11th-grade student. "Every five minutes the lady was saying over the loud speaker , 'Close the windows . . . then close the doors.' "

Hanger identified the four people taken to Fairfax, Mt. Vernon and Alexandria hospitals as Delores Lewis, 26, Sam Page, 47, Nida Boguski, 37, and Ernest Anderson, 42. He said it was not known how many of them were school employes.