Jay Leno Opens Up for First Time Since Suffering Third-Degree Burns in Garage Fire

It has only been one month since Jay Leno suffered third-degree burns while working on one of his vintage cars, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him today. In an interview with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb – airing on December 14th – he’s the same Jay Leno with the same sense of humor that made him famous. 

As explained by Leno, he was fixing a clogged fuel line on his 1907 White Steam Car when he asked his friend to ‘blow some air through the line.’ The fuel line made a noise before leaving Leno with a ‘face full of gas.’ It wasn’t until the pilot light jumped that the fire was ignited on his face, resulting in serious burns.

Jay Leno Recovering From Surgery After Suffering Second- and Third-Degree Burns in Gasoline Fire
Dan Holm / Shutterstock

He speaks highly of his friend Dave Killackey. “And I said to my friend, I said, ‘Dave, I’m on fire.’ And Dave’s like, ‘All right.’ I said, ‘No, Dave, I’m on fire.’ And then, ‘Oh, my God.’ Dave, my friend, pulled me out and jumped on top of me and kind of smothered the fire,” said Leno in the recent sit-down interview.

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Over the next 10 days, Jay Leno was being treated for third-degree burns to approximately 7% of his body – mostly his face, but also including his chest and hands – at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills Hospital. His doctors spoke highly of him and his optimistic attitude from the moment he arrived.

“He’s also a very stoic individual and he’s just not one who wants to complain,” said Dr. Peter Grossman, the director of the Grossman Burn Center. He described Leno as “very friendly” and “very gracious”– adding that he had a ‘very high pain threshold’ considering the nature and severity of the injuries. 

Much like you would expect from someone like Jay Leno, he wasn’t about to let his fiery accident hold him back from doing the things he loves to do on a regular basis. He was released from the hospital just 10 days after the incident and immediately returned to the same garage where the incident took place. 

He was met by several photogs as he pulled up to the garage and, in Leno fashion, joked about what transpired – saying he was ready for a much-needed BBQ and will be back entertaining folks as a stand-up comedian that weekend. Now that it’s been a full month since the incident, the comedian is doing great!

Jay Leno’s Back to Doing the Things He Loves

On November 27th, Jay Leno made his official return to stand-up comedy in front of a sold-out crowd at Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, CA.. It’s a gig he has stayed true to nearly every week since the early 1990s and while he had to take a brief hiatus due to the garage fire, he couldn’t wait to return. 

Before reciting his normal set, Leno had a few new jokes that he read off his phone – some of which were poking fun at the fire and his burns. He was met with a lot of love and support as he made the audience laugh with every joke he told. It was a night he’ll remember for the rest of his life, given the circumstances.

Fellow comedian Arsenio Hall spoke of Leno’s courage and determination. “No comic would leave the Grossman burn center, and do standup Sunday in Hermosa. I lost my big toe nail after someone stepped on my foot at the Super Bowl last year. I canceled three standup dates after that,” Hall said to ET. 

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All in all, Jay Leno required several different grafting procedures to remove damaged and/or unhealthy tissue, while also undergoing numerous hyperbaric chamber sessions to promote a more effective and efficient healing process. It’s good to know that he has remained in good spirits throughout treatment.

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