A disturbance broke out last night at a juvenile detention center in Rockville, in which inmates brawled with each other and a staff member was slightly injured, authorities said.

At least four youths were taken to hospitals from the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center at the conclusion of the incident, in which inmates barricaded themselves in a living unit in a standoff with police, law enforcement spokesmen said.

The youths apparently were upset that they weren't allowed to go home for the holidays, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose told the Associated Press. "They were holding themselves hostage where they usually spend the night. It was kind of a strange deal," Moose said.

After the incident ended about 11:30, Montgomery police spokesman Derek Baliles said: "Things got out of hand, and [the inmates] just took advantage of the situation. They made no demands."

Part of the area where the disturbance occurred was left in disarray, with furniture overturned, and it appeared that the two dozen youths housed in that section might have to be shifted elsewhere temporarily, authorities said. It was not clear how many had taken part in the disturbance.

The disturbance was apparently touched off about 8:45 p.m. by what was believed to be a mock fight between inmates, according to law enforcement officials.

A counselor who intervened was punched in the face, and the disorder apparently became more widespread, according to county and state police spokesmen.

At some point, someone shut the steel door leading to the living area where the fighting had broken out, authorities said. According to Baliles, inmates "pushed furniture against" the door.

State and county police arrived and talked through the closed door with the youths, who emerged after asking for assurances that they would not be harmed, authorities said.

Moose said inmates complained of injuries, including bruises, a sore neck and a black eye. Baliles said no injury was inflicted by staff members or law enforcement officers. The entire matter was under investigation early this morning.

The center is a holding facility for high-risk juveniles from several Maryland counties who have not yet seen a judge or who are awaiting placement in a longer-term detention program.

Advocates for youths have complained of crowding at the center. The number of inmates housed there last night appeared to be below the official maximum capacity.

Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.

CAPTION: An injured juvenile is taken to an ambulance after a disturbance at the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Rockville.