Jay Leno has spoken about the scary incident in his Burbank garage which led to him being hospitalised.
Leno was working on in 1907 White Motor Co steam car at the time of the incident when a spark set some fuel on fire. The former Tonight Show host suffered burns to his chest, hands, and third-degree burns to his face. Leno has now done his first interview since being released from hospital, speaking with NBC Today, he said:
“When you work with cars, you have a lot of accidents. But this is bigger than most.
“With a steam car, you have gasoline, but you also have a vaporizer which is heated by a pilot light to turn water into steam.
“So I was underneath it, trying to unclog [it], and I said, ‘blow some air through the line.’ Then suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas and then the pilot light jumped, and my face caught on fire.
“I knew how close I was to the pilot light and I thought ‘Uh oh.’
“It felt exactly like my face was on fire. Maybe like the most intense sunburn you’ve ever had, that’d be fair to say.
“I’m not a panicky guy, but I knew if I breathed in I could scorch my lungs. I was under the car maybe 10 seconds before Dave pulled me out. Any longer than that I could have lost my eye.”
Luckily, Leno’s longtime friend, Dave Killackey, “jumped” on him and was able to get the flames out as quickly as possible. Leno released a statement from hospital saying:
“I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire. I am OK. Just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”
Dr Peter Grossman, Director of the Grossman Burn Center, explained that Leno had burns to “approximately 7% of his body” to NBC Los Angeles and had undergone treatment to have temporary skin grafts.
Thankfully Leno is on the mend and the flames did not spread any further. The former TV host and major car enthusiast hosts Jay Leno’s Garage and has an extensive and impressive collection. It is thought that he owns roughly 180 cars and 160 motorcycles.