The only time I've ever had a tire "let go" during installation was in the old days of rim brakes on mountain bikes. After a wet winter, the sides of older rims would be compromised from the brake pads/winter grit. I was inflating a stubborn tire for a customer (this is a BICYCLE tire now) and at around 40psi the rim side let go, catastrophically.
There were rim chunks embedded in the ceiling. I couldn't hear properly for hours. Scared the crap out of everyone in the shop. Now, even though I have no qualms about inflating a tire to insane pressures to seat them, I'm still scared of it and take the appropriate precautions.
I've seen video of truck tires exploding and have no desire to witness one in person. I heard a story once (no claims as to the veracity of this story) that had a tire tech not use the safety cage when dealing with a "split" rim off a semi when the tire exploded. According to the story, the upper half of the tech's body was catapulted into the air and landed on top of the shop's sign, leaving the lower half behind.
While I'm not sure the story is true, it certainly illustrates the amount of energy we're dealing with here.
I don't have to agree with you to like you or respect you. -Anthony Bourdain
Motomedic screwed with this post 02-09-2013 at 05:59 AM