As the scale of the fire's destruction in Maui becomes clear, questions are mounting over whether officials warned residents fast enough.

Local evacuations first took place on Tuesday, followed by an announcement that the flames were "100% contained".

By the following day, however, fast-moving flames had engulfed Maui's Lahaina town.

About 80% of the town has been destroyed, according to officials.

While some reported receiving text alerts, it is unclear why the warnings were not more widespread. Many residents have reported that strong winds knocked out communications systems hours before the fires arrived.

Here's what we know.

When were Maui residents warned about the fires?

We know now that the fires began on Tuesday, but there was no specific warning ahead of it.

The National Weather Service did issue a number of warnings for strong winds and dry weather that can help fuel wildfires. But that warning was cancelled on Wednesday.

Soon after flames were reported on Maui on the morning of 8 August, officials ordered an evacuation order of an area near a school to the east of Lahaina.

Shortly before 0900 local time (2000 BST), Maui County's official website put out a statement in which they said that the brush fire had been "100% contained", although "winds in the area remain a concern".

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Apart from a warning to avoid blocked roads, officials gave no further warnings regarding Lahaina until 16:45 local time, when the county said "an apparent flare-up" of the fire had caused the closure of a bypass near the town, as well as some evacuations.

More evacuations were announced later that afternoon, followed by an emergency declaration by Mayor Richard Bissen before 2200 local time that night. Tourists in some hotels were instructed to remain in place to avoid clogging up local roads.

By then, flames had already engulfed parts of Lahaina, forcing some residents to flee into the sea.

Lahaina shelterImage source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Hundreds of Lahaina residents have evacuated to shelters.

Was there a warning system in place?

Hawaii has what officials have previously touted as the world's largest all-hazard public warning system, which includes a network of over 400 sirens across the state's many islands that can help alert residents and visitors to various kinds of threats.

The head of the state's emergency management agency, Adam Weintraub, told the Associated Press this week that records do not suggest that those sirens were triggered on Maui on Tuesday.

Instead, Mr Weintraub said, officials used emergency alerts sent to mobile phones as well as TVs and radio stations.

In the wake of the fire, many residents have reported not seeing these, prompting speculation that they came only after widespread power and communications outages occurred on Maui.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, fire chief Bradford Ventura said that the flames – propelled by strong winds – had moved so fast that notifying residents became "nearly impossible".

He added that the first neighbourhoods of Lahaina struck by the blaze "were basically self-evacuating with fairly little notice".

On NBC's Today programme, Mayor Bissen said that the fast-moving flames created an "impossible situation" because "everything happened so quickly".

While he declined to comment on whether warning systems functioned or not, Mr Bissen said that 2,100 people were in shelters by Tuesday night.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Hawaii governor Josh Green said that destruction in Lahaina was "very difficult to anticipate, especially because it came in the night with high winds".

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Watch: BBC Weather takes a look at how the weather influenced wildfires in Hawaii

What did residents hear?

In the aftermath of the blaze, many local residents and visitors have reported not hearing any warnings at all until the flames were dangerously close or already sweeping into Lahaina.

Tee Dang, a 35-year-old visitor from Kansas, told the BBC that she only realised an emergency was taking place when the manager of an Airbnb told her family that they should evacuate.

"We don't know what to do, so we just grabbed all our stuff…by the time we got in our car, the black smoke was rising," she added. Eventually Ms Dang, her husband and the children were forced to flee into the sea to escape.

"All I grabbed was food, water and a shirt…and we left," she said, adding that they were soon caught in traffic amid the flames. "There were fires in every corner".

Lee Munn, a 42-year-old resident of Lahaina, said he was meeting with his neighbours at an apartment complex when strong winds started and he began smelling smoke and seeing soot fall on a window. He soon saw embers falling.

"At that point everybody started to panic," he added. As he packed, the building caught fire around him and "everything went black".

Local man Dustin Kaleiopu told CBS, the BBC's US partner, that he only realised the fire was so close when "smoke started to come through out windows".

"By the time we got in our car, our neighbour's yard was on fire," he added. "There were strangers in our yard with their water hoses trying to put fires out".

Carl Cudworth, a 63-year-old Lahaina resident, was one of the few who have so far reported receiving a text alert.

He told the New York Times that the alert – which sounded "kind of like a fire engine" – vanished quickly but gave him and his family time to escape Lahaina.

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