Hot Tar Burns Roofer Over 50% of His Body

A roofer was in critical condition Friday after an accident left him bathed in boiling tar, causing second- and third-degree burns over 50% of his body. Paramedics lifted him from the roof of an auto repair shop and transported him by helicopter to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.

Elias Tebalan, 28, of Los Angeles, was carrying two pails of hot tar about 1:15 p.m. on the roof of Super-Tech Auto Service at 20124 Sherman Way when he stumbled on a piece of plywood that gave way.

Co-worker Albino Santizo said hissing steam obliterated his view, but he heard Tebalan's cries. "He was screaming: 'Oh my God! Oh my God,' " Santizo, 34, said through an interpreter.

Santizo estimated the tar's temperature was close to 600 degrees. Los Angeles Firefighter Dennis DeGeeter said Tebalan suffered second- and third-degree burns over half his body.

"He had really bad burns to his hands," DeGeeter said. "He was wearing gloves that melted into his skin."

Tebalan's back, legs, abdomen and face were badly burned, DeGeeter said.

Paramedics administered morphine to calm Tebalan and dull his pain.

Santizo pointed to the piece of plywood that had tripped Tebalan and said that it had been improperly nailed from the underside of the roof.

Cal/OSHA inspectors were investigating the incident.

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