Jay Leno Reveals Scary Details On Cause Of Burn Accident

By Chad Langen | Updated

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A little over a month ago, fans were shocked to learn that stand-up comedian Jay Leno was hospitalized following a terrifying car fire. The horrible incident took place in a garage where the former late-night host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno stores several vehicles that he owns. The accident resulted in severe burns to his face, and in a recent interview with People, the comedian shared new details about the frightening mishap that had him fearing for his life, including the skin grafts that he was administered.

Jay Leno admitted that working with automobiles and accidents tend to go hand in hand, however, he indicated his recent fluke was “bigger than most.” After suffering major second-degree burns on his face and upper body, the comedian spent nine days at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital. While there, he underwent two skin graft surgeries to cover the damage caused by his burns.

In the hours leading up to the accident, Jay Leno and his longtime friend, Dave Killackey, were working on a 1907 White Steam Car parked in the host’s Burbank garage. They were attempting to repair a clogged fuel line in the vehicle’s undercarriage. “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,” Leno stated.

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He went on to explain that after pushing a small amount of air into the fuel line hoping to unclog it, his face became drenched in gasoline. Jay Leno immediately knew he was in trouble when he realized how close his face was to the pilot light. He revealed that within seconds his face was ignited in flames.

Although he was understandably in a state of shock, the comedian quickly but carefully attempted to make his way out from underneath the car. At the same time, he kept his eyes shut and held his breath to prevent burns to his eyeballs and lungs. Fortunately, his friend Dave was able to pull him out from beneath the vehicle after approximately 10 seconds.

Jay Leno described the feeling of his face being aflame saying, “Maybe like the most intense sunburn you’ve ever had.” After using his buddy’s work shirt to put out the flames, paramedics were at the scene within minutes. By the next day, he was receiving treatment for his injuries at the Grossman Burn Center.

The incident was no doubt a frightening one for the host, but it could have been far worse had he and his friend not reacted as quickly as they did. Still, his injuries are nothing to balk at. Jay Leno was forced to undergo two skin grafting surgeries, with one utilizing skin from a human cadaver and another using a pig intestine, to help regenerate new skin.

Six days after being released from the burn center, Jay Leno was back onstage, performing at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. Even after suffering severe injuries to his face and upper body, he still hasn’t lost his sense of humor. He joked that the accident gave his career as a standup comedian a major boost because fans are flocking to see his shows before he burns up again.

We’re glad to see Jay Leno is making a solid recovery following his freak accident. The comedian currently hosts the CNBC series Jay Leno’s Garage, where he shares his passion for motor vehicles. The show’s seventh season recently concluded, and the network is expected to renew the popular series for an eighth season.