Until the turn of the 20th century, inhabitants of the town of St. Pierre on the French Caribbean island of Martinique mostly ignored their giant neighbor Mount Pelée, which loomed less than five miles away. Over the centuries, it had grumbled a few times, but on May 8, 1908, the people of St. Pierre would live to regret their complacency — but not for long. Before the blast, there was no shortage of bad omens. Pre-eruption tremors and steam releases sent wildlife — including giant insects and snakes — scurrying off the mountain and into St. Pierre, where dozens of people were killed by vipers reaching six feet long. Finally, the volcano exploded in a violent eruption that generated an avalanche of gas, debris, ash, rock, and fire reaching temperatures of 750 Fahrenheit. It annihilated the town of St. Pierre in an instant, killing nearly all 30,000 inhabitants.