US comedian Jay Leno described the moment his face caught fire in a fire that left him with burns on about 7% of his body.
Former Tonight Show host suffered severe burns to his hands and chest, as well as third-degree burns on his face, after one of his classic cars went up in flames in his Los Angeles garage last month.
He suffered “deep second-degree burns” and possibly third-degree burns in the fire, but was released from hospital on November 21.
In his first interview since sustaining his injuries, the 72-year-old told NBC’s Today show that he was working on his 1907 White Motor Co steam car with a friend when he noticed the vehicle’s fuel line was clogged.
“So I was under it, trying to unclog it, and I said, ‘blow some air through the line,'” Leno recalled.
“Then all of a sudden, boom, I got my face full of gas and then the pilot flame blew and my face caught fire.”
He added that his friend pulled him out and “jumped” on him, managing to smother the flames.
Leno was taken by ambulance to a hospital and then sent to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where he received hyperbaric treatment, an oxygen therapy that can speed the healing of burns.
Due to his injuries, he was hospitalized for more than a week.
Skin grafts from “human cadaver skin”
“I had some severe burns from a gasoline fire,” Leno said in a statement last month. “I’m fine. I just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”
Grossman Burn Center director Dr. Peter Grossman told NBC Los Angeles that Leno had burns on “about 7 percent of his body” and was being treated with temporary skin grafts from “human cadaver skin.”
At his discharge from hospitalLeno posed for photos with staffers, revealing some of his burns.
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“I never considered myself a roast comedian”
Despite the ordeal, he returned to stand-up comedy within days of being released and held a sold-out show in California.
“I never thought of myself as a comedian roast,” he joked at the event. “We have two shows tonight, regular and extra crunchy.”
Leno, who also hosts the reality series Jay Leno’s Garage, is known for his love of cars.
He has about 180 cars and 160 motorcycles in his garage near the Hollywood Burbank airport, according to duPont Registry, a marketplace and collector’s publication for rare and classic cars.