The day after they lost their homes to fire, more than 100 residents of a Santa Ana apartment complex spent long, anxious hours at a shelter Wednesday wondering what more they had lost.
For Susana Duran, like many others, the answer was everything: "Our money, our clothes, televisions. We got our lives but the only thing we got out is what we have on."
The two blazes Tuesday at La Serena apartments on Lyon Street heavily damaged 68 units and displaced as many as 500 residents, most of them Latinos. Many stayed with friends or relatives, but others sought aid at the American Red Cross shelter set up at Raymond A. Villa Fundamental Intermediate School.
Residents were allowed to return to their apartments Wednesday afternoon to salvage what they could. But for some, that did little to ease the uncertainty of what the next weeks and months will bring.
Most residents hold low-paying jobs and have no credit cards, no bank accounts -- and no fire insurance.
"We don't know what our apartment looks like, and they haven't given us any information," said Liset Ortiz, who spent the night at the shelter with her husband, Hugo Ortiz, and the couple's two boys.
The Red Cross and the property owners are trying to obtain a master list of renters who were displaced and will need shelter, possibly for up to four months, while the units are repaired.
A spokesperson for Kennedy-Wilson Inc., the Beverly Hills company that bought La Serena more than two years ago, said Wednesday that the firm will refund renters' deposits to help in their search for a temporary home.
Officials said the first fire started accidentally in a mattress in an upstairs bedroom, possibly by a 9-year-old boy playing with matches or a cigarette, or by an adult who had been smoking in bed.
A second fire that erupted in a separate building appears to have been set, said Santa Ana Fire Department spokesman Anthony Espinoza. Investigators discounted what some residents told them about a stove exploding but want more time to examine the evidence before they say that the second fire was arson, Espinoza said.
Three firefighters were hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion or dehydration, and one remains in the hospital, he said.
Damage estimates were uncertain, Espinoza said.
For Duran, 41, the possible causes offered little consolation. She and her husband, Eulogio Orozco, 49, rented a one-bedroom apartment. As they fled, they saw flames rising from the bottom-floor apartment.
The family has yet to inventory their losses, but they believe they have lost clothes, three TV sets, a Nintendo game and their daughter's wedding ring.
Times wire services contributed to this report.