Federal officials announced Wednesday that agents are renting Waco apartments, an indication that authorities may be in for a long wait in the Mount Carmel standoff.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman Dan Hartnett said the agency is renting apartments on a monthly basis, and after the standoff ends, ATF officials will be in Waco for at least 30 days.

Sharon Wheeler, ATF spokeswoman, said the agency probably won’t be stationed at Texas State Technical College indefinitely, and it could move into office space. “I’m sure we are looking at some space,” she said.

A real estate source in Waco who did not want to be named confirmed that some federal officers have already rented Waco apartments.

“They have been contacting us … looking for housing because they have said the hotels are booked,” she said. “Accommodations are extremely hard to find. These people – the FBI and the ATF – they only want to go in on a one-month lease. So most apartment complexes are not willing at all to sign them up …”

The source said three of 50 apartment complexes she deals with have bent their rules and agreed to rent out on a monthly basis. She said the apartments she located for agents charged a moderate rate, but instead, they rented at a “pretty expensive” complex elsewhere.

She said the FBI and ATF have rented a total of 20 single units in town as far as she knows.

Another source said she knew ATF authorities have rented nine apartments in three complexes. She said ATF officials asked for 40 apartments on Monday.

Belva Fuller, an executive officer of the Heart of Texas Apartment Association, said apartment occupancy in Waco was 90 percent in 1992.

“The occupancy is better now than it has been for the last couple of years,” she said, adding that occupancy was at an all-time low of 76 percent in 1989.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part Two appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

Read the accounts of April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.