"In the real world, this happens to people every single day," Jay Leno said.
Since the November 12 fire accident, which left the comedian, American television host, and avid vintage car collector, Jay Leno with severe burns on his face and body, Leno opened up about the incident for the first time in an interview with Hoda Kotb on NBC's Today. He was working under a 1907 antique white steam car with his friend Dave Killackey when a series of events led to his injuries. The pilot light jumped and he got caught on fire.
EXCLUSIVE: Jay Leno @jayleno opens up to @hodakotb in his first broadcast interview about the terrifying fire that caused severe burns to his face, chest and hands. pic.twitter.com/FFpreRA7u1— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 14, 2022
He described that he was underneath the car when he realized that the fuel line was clogged. He asked his friend to "blow some air through the line." When his friend blew, "boom, I got a face full of gas. And then the pilot light jumped and my face caught on fire." The Jay Leno’s Garage star said he told Killackey about the fire to which his friend at first simply responded, "All right." "I said, 'No, Dave, I’m on fire.' And then, 'Oh, my God,'" Leno added. "Dave, my friend, pulled me out and jumped on top of me and kind of smothered the fire."
Leno then went to the bathroom to put cold water on his face. They called 911, but Leno chose to go home instead of a burn unit as the doctors suggested. "I drove home right after that," in a bid to make things easier on his wife, Mavis, he said. The 72-year-old explained that it "seemed like the right thing to do " because he didn't want his wife to be "stuck and not knowing what was going on."
He was then taken to a local hospital and transferred to the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, California where he spent nine days. He would spend eight hours a day isolated in a hyperbaric chamber, allowing oxygen to help him recover, reported CNN. Dr. Peter Grossman who treated Leno, in a news conference held on November 16, said, "he had pretty significant burns to face and hands, and his chest...some of the burns to the face are a little deeper and a little more concerning."
The burns were a mixture of second-degree and possibly some third-degree burns. Jay had suffered 7 percent burns on his body but didn't bother much about his appearance. "When you look like me, you don’t really worry about what you look like. Look, if I’m George Clooney, it’s going to be a huge problem. But they said it would be alright so, you know my attitude is I trust people who are the best to do what they do," he said.
Jay Leno is opening up about his burn accident in a column for the Wall Street Journalhttps://t.co/vBCfESwFB8— JustJared.com (@JustJared) December 12, 2022
Two weeks after his release from the hospital, the former Tonight Show host performed on stage in front of a sold-out crowd at his regular haunt, The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. "It worked out great and actually the most expensive part of the whole operation was the gasoline. We’re in California, it’s seven bucks a gallon," he joked.
"In the real world, this happens to people every single day. If you work with your hands, people work with their hands, get injured every single day. And I don’t want to be some whiny celebrity, 'Boo hoo is me,'" he said while pretending to cry. "People would be like, 'Shut up!'" he added. Leno also mentioned: "Oh yeah. so President Biden called. That was very nice. I said, 'I'm surprised you don’t have more important things to do. Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate it!'"
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Frederick M. Brown