oufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean became active on July 18, 1995. This was the first eruption of the volcano in historic time.
Villagers on Montserrat reported loud rumbling noises, a light ashfall, and a strong sulfurous odor on July 18. The eruption was preceded by three years of elevated seismic activity and a more intense earthquake swarm that began on July 14. The initial eruption was apparently a small phreatic (steam) event which produced minor ash that was distributed about the island by the wind. Satellite imagery analyzed by scientists at NOAA showed no signs of this eruption plume, as would be expected for such a small event. On July 19, observers confirmed that small steam explosions were occurring in an area about 1.5 kilometers northeast from the summit. The explosions were spaced about 20 minutes apart and sent ash and steam about 40 meters high. On July 22, light ashfall occurred in the capital of Plymouth, located about four kilometers west of the summit, and in villages to the southwest of the summit. 
Before 1995, Montserrat was a relatively quiet tourist destination -- a British Overseas Territory with a population of 11,000.