Update: Jay Leno suffers “serious” burns in car fire

TV personality Jay Leno from "Jay Leno's Garage" poses for a portrait at the NBCUniversal Summer Press Day during the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton on August 13, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. Christopher Polk/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jay Leno “could have died in the fire that erupted in his Burbank garage—it was that serious—and we’ve learned it was a friend of his who may have saved his life,” reports TMZ.

“Jay tells TMZ from his hospital bed that he was working on his 1910 White Steam Car [below] in his famed garage this past Saturday, fixing a clogged fuel line. He says there was a fuel leak and gasoline sprayed on his face and hands. Almost simultaneously a spark triggered an explosion, setting the comedian on fire. Jay, who was rushed to a nearby burn center by ambulance, says he expects to be hospitalized for somewhere between 5 and 10 days.”

Leno said his “quick-thinking buddy Dave was right there and jumped on him, quickly smothering the flames. The left side of Jay’s face was badly burned … His hands were burned as well. He says he’s now dealing with third-degree burns and may need skin grafts. The burns did not damage his eyes or his ears.”

Steam cars use gasoline or kerosene to fuel the burner, which heats the boiler, to generates the steam needed to propel the car.

Leno is now in an L.A. burn center. He was in his Burbank garage in California where he stores his massive car collection when the fire happened. He was listed in stable condition as of this writing.

“I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire. I am OK,” reads a statement from Leno to Variety. “Just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”

He was taken to the burn ward at Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles where he remains. Grossman Burn Centers “are plastic surgery-based medical centers of excellence specializing in the comprehensive treatment of burns—from acute care and reconstruction, to rehabilitation and psychological counseling,” says the Center’s website.

TMZ says Leno has cancelled all his engagements for two weeks. He was supposed to appear at the Financial Brand Forum on Sunday at the Aria in Las Vegas, but organizers said there was a “very serious medical emergency” that prevented him from showing.

Leno, 72, is of course the standup comic who hosted the Tonight Show on NBC until he retired to pursue his car-collecting hobby full-time. His knowledge of automobiles and motorcycles is near-encyclopedic. (He also owns multiple steam cars besides the 1910 White.) He hosts Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC, and a remake of Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life that is in syndication.

We’ll update the story as more information comes in. We wish our columnist and friend a speedy recovery.

Jay leno mckeel hagerty fawn over jeff peek triumph spitfire
Jay Leno at Hagerty’s Traverse City, Michigan, headquarters for a Friday morning cars and coffee with McKeel Hagerty. Jeff Peek
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    So sorry this happened to you! Hate tp see anyone (especially another Car Guy) get hurt. Saw your stand up show in San Diego in 1999 and again this past year in Wilmington.
    Get well soon!

    When you work on cars your gonna get hurt at some point. And Jay , Your the only guy I know of that can work and drive them like you do . Get well soon . I remember getting scalded from a stem cleaner and it was also gas fired , so I know how dangerous they can be. I was mixing the powder soap in the mixing tank and I used the wand to mix the soap like I always did but this time the water was cold not hot in the tank and it literally blew back in my face and chest and scalded me and quick thinking I took off my shirt only to have the skin on my chest peel off and I put baking soda on the burn and put a dry shirt back on and it never scared and really didn’t hurt all that bad but took the first layer of skin and hair right off . Needless to say I never did that again . Thank the LORD it wasn’t hot oil .

    You are a one of a kind don’t try to change that ever again. I suppose many of us can relate to some very weird accidents working on cars. I remember the time my 54 Chevy………………….. Get well quick and listen to the doctors! Your in my prayers.

    Hey hope you have a speedy recovery and back doing what you love to do very soon. This something I can see Tim doing not you or may be he was helping .Sorry just trying to make you laugh but no brun is anything to laugh at . From one car guy to another get will soon .Ps love your show.

    Absolutely agree with you and all the other commenters, Darrell. Jay is a REAL gearhead that knows exactly what he is talking about. Love Jay Leno’s Garage. For all his fame Jay is a very unassuming chap. Now I just wish that Hagerty would include a “Thumbs up, or down” so that we could agree, or disagree, with commenters thoughts on all subjects. Get well soon Jay and keep that famous chin up!

    Get well soon. I enjoy you show and related humor.

    I had the gas fumes in an open-up engine that threw a rod burst into flames burning my face and my hair when I had hair to burn.

    A not so minor bump is n the road. Speedy recovery from a former Bristol county (somewhere near Boston) resident. Some guys will do anything to avoid their column deadline.

    Who among us hasn’t gotten a sleeve soaked with gas and not taken it seriously. An agonizing reminder that we play with dangerous things and no amount of experience and resources make us immune. Hoping for the best and quickest recovery possible Jay, and thankful it wasn’t even worse. – a fellow tinkerer

    I hope there are no long term repercussions and wish young Jay a speedy recovery. It’s a reminder to all of us gear-heads how quickly a seemingly harmless event can morph into a catastrophe. He’s fortunate that his friend Dave was there and had the presence of mind to extinguish the blaze. Be safe out there friends.

    I wish Jay a speedy recovery.

    Fellow comdian and car enthusiast Adam Carolla once off-hand joked that school children decades from now might read about an old time comedian who died after a steam-car accident in the year 2030. They would thus be confused, thinking that steam-cars had gone away over 100 years earlier.

    I’ll join my fellow posters here in wishing Jay a speedy and full recovery. Many communities, including the Entertainment Industry AND the Automotive Enthusiasts, place Jay near the top of their lists of favorite people. I, and millions of others, will be sending positive vibes Mr. Leno’s way until he’s all better!

    Jays response comment tells you as much about the man and anything else. No drama and already talking about getting back on his feet. Solid Jay, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Don’t know you, but love cars and your show. Wishing you a speedy recovery and strongly recommend HBOT treatments. Stay in the middle of the road, Howard

    These things can happen! All of us car-folks are aware and do what we can to stay safe. Even with best practice there is always the unknown! Speedy Recovery Jay! You are a great asset to the car hobby! We all need you back in action soon!

    I am praying that the Lord will place His healing hand on you that you will recovery completely. It is in Jesus Name that I pray. Amen

    If Jesus were still alive on earth, I’m thinking He’d be a car guy. Don’t know why, I just do. Get well, Jay.

    Second that, Dick. God is the great healer, physical and mental/emotional. Praying is the most powerful tool we can use to help Jay heal. Blessings to you and your family, Jay. Thank you Father for what you are doing in Jay’s life. In Christ’s precious name,Amen

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