Jay Leno Recalls Scary Car Fire in First Interview Since Release From Burn Center

A month after sustaining serious injuries during a car fire on Nov. 12, Jay Leno is looking back on the accident and sharing his recovery progress. Here’s what the Tonight Show alum said.

By Daisy Maldonado Dec 14, 2022 12:47 PMTags
Watch: Jay Leno Recalls Recent Car Fire Accident in TODAY Interview

Jay Leno is reflecting on the November accident that left him hospitalized with serious burns.

One month after the former Tonight Show host, 72, was injured in a gasoline fire while working on one of his collectible cars—sustained burns to his face, arms and hands—he is speaking out for the first time about the terrifying ordeal and his road to recovery.

"It was a 1907 White Steam Car," Leno told Hoda Kotb in a Dec. 14 interview for Today. "The fuel line was clogged so I was underneath it. It sounded clogged and I said, 'Blow some air through the line,' and so he did."

"And suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas," Leno continued. "And then the pilot light jumped and my face caught on fire."

Luckily, Leno's longtime friend Dave Killackey—who calls the incident "horrible"—was there to save his life. As Leno recalled, "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."

When Comedians Get Serious

To Kotb's surprise, Leno revealed he drove himself home after the incident. However, he was soon admitted to Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where he spent the next 10 days before being released into the clinic's outpatient care facility on Nov. 21.

Upon his exit, Dr. Peter Grossman, who treated the former talk show host, shared an update on Leno's health.

"I am pleased with Jay's progress," he said in a statement at the time, "and I am optimistic that he will make a full recovery."

Despite Leno having "deep second-degree burns, with possibly third-degree burns," as Grossman told the New York Times on Nov. 14, Jay was said to be in good spirits throughout his time in the care facility.

Grossman Burn Center

His attitude was also attested to by Tim Allen, who paid a visit to his pal on Nov. 17 and told paparazzi outside that Leno was "feeling better."

"We did some jokes," The Santa Clauses star added, "which is what we do. We commiserated."

(E! and Today are part of the NBCUniversal family).