Comedian Jay Leno revealed what went down in his garage over the weekend — including an explosion and a gasoline fire that sent him to the burn unit at a nearby Los Angeles hospital — and credited a quick-thinking friend with saving his life.
According to a report from the entertainment website TMZ, Leno was working to repair a clogged fuel line on his 1907 White Steam Car when a leak caused gasoline to spray over his face and hands. A spark then caused an explosion, which ignited the gas.
Leno told TMZ that his friend Dave, who was in the garage with him at the time, was able to smother the flames — otherwise, he said that the fire was serious enough that it easily could have killed him.
The former “Tonight Show” host was reportedly lucky that the flames did not damage his eyes or ears — but third-degree burns on his face could ultimately cause him to need skin grafts in order to heal properly.
After the accident on Sunday, attendees at the Financial Brand Forum 2022 in Las Vegas were notified that he would not appear as scheduled. “His family was not able to provide us very many details, but there was a very serious medical emergency that is preventing Jay from traveling,” the statement read. “All we know is that he is alive, so our prayers go out to him and his family tonight.”
Leno has long been a car enthusiast — an interest he says he can trace back to his first girlfriend and the desire not to get caught taking some rather risqué photos of her. He explained that since photos were not digital at the time, everything was done on film — and that meant that film had to be developed by real people, preferably people who did not know his parents.
“When you got the film you had to find a place that would develop it that didn’t know your parents. So you had to go two towns over,” he said, explaining that he needed a car to make that happen.
Leno said that he just needed some time to recover, telling Page Six in a statement, “I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire. I am OK. Just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”