Comedian Jay Leno recently appeared on the Today show to discuss the accident which left him with burns on his face, chest and hands.
Leno was injured when flames broke out while working on his 1907 White Steam Car on November 12. He stayed at the Grossman Burn Center for treatment for third-degree burns for 10 days and was released on November 22, with doctors expecting him to make a full recovery.
The former Tonight Show host explained the events of the accident in an interview with Today show host Hoda Kotb, which will air in full on December 14. Leno said he was working on The White with his friend Dave Killackey when the accident happened.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 14, 2022
“The fuel line was clogged, so I was under it,” Leno said in the interview. “And I said, ‘Blow some air through the line,’ and he did.”
“All of a sudden, boom, I got a face full of gas,” Leno continued, “and then the pilot flame jumped and my face caught fire.” Steam cars use a pilot light to ignite their fuel, which is used to make water in a boiler to heat and turn it into steam to power the vehicle.
Killackey pulled Leno from under the car and smothered the fire. The comedian was then taken to the hospital with what Killackey described in the interview as “horrific” burns. Killackey called 911 and doctors told him to go to a burns center, but he drove home instead. He then went to the burn center.
Jay Leno with a Ferrari S90
Leno wasn’t concerned about permanent cosmetic damage. “If you look like me, you don’t worry about how you look,” he said. “If I’m George Clooney, that’s going to be a huge problem, but they said it would be fine.”
Some reconstructions were needed, including around an ear, but Leno noted that the doctors “kept all the original parts.” He also spent eight hours a day in a hyperbaric chamber, which he described as a “glass coffin,” as part of the treatment.
In the interview, Leno looks completely healed. Images shared by the Today show during the interview show the extent of the damage at its worst.
After his stint at the burn center, Leno was able to resume his routine of public appearances and standup comedy upon his release.
“The most expensive part of the operation was the gas,” he joked. “We’re in California! It’s seven dollars a gallon!”