This week was the centenial of the disaster of the General Slocum:
On June 15, 1904, the congregation of St. Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church on East Sixth Street [in New York's Little Germany] rented the steamboat The General Slocum for a picnic excursion to Long Island. [A] fire broke out in the hold as the Slocum steamed up the East River. The Captain steered the burning boat to the rocky shore of North Brother Island across from East 148th Street in the Bronx, but already the blazing decks had collapsed on hundreds of screaming passengers. On that beautiful sunny morning, scores of families lost mothers and children.
Some of the rescuers were staff and patients at an isolated sanitarium. This website contains has information and details the state of research on the disaster.