I'll second that this was probably just not your lucky day and you probably couldn't have done anything reasonable to prevent it (assuming the wheel, tube itself is in good condition and the tire was properly inflated to begin with).
In the case of the ferry that PeteH mentions, the ambient temperature may have been much higher than the outside temperature. Lets consider cars. In 90 F (32 C) weather, the interior of a car can be easily 120F (49 C) - 140F (60 C). Using the ideal gas law, PV = n RT, we see that if we fix the number of air molecules (n) and volume of the tire (V) [Obviously, the tire gets a little bigger when it gets hotter, but lets neglect that], and move from pressure and temperature (P1,T1) to (P2,T2) where temperature is in Kelvin, P2 = P1 (T2/T1). So, assuming that the tire was pumped at 32 C and was left in a car and reached 60 C, its pressure would go up about 9% (so a 105 PSI tire at 32 C would be at around 115 PSI at around 60C). Still, in the ferry case (where the temperatures would likely be lower than in a closed car), most likely a case of bad luck since you can often exceed the marked maximum tire pressure (which is likely ~120 PSI for a 700x23c tire). Note that tires also heat up while riding, though, but the testing is likely for significantly higher temperatures anyway.
Here is a nice piece from the NY times which seems to indicate it might be tube conditioning or a jarring temperature effect if you pump and ride at drastically different temperatures [70F inside -> 150F roads (if the tire reached 150F, thats around a 15% increase according to ideal gas predictions]. I don't have a figure for how much a tire heats up in "typical" riding, but clearly, there is likely a significant design margin for pressure and material properties for that.