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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    Wishing Jay a speedy recovery. Prayers for him and the family for the doctors involved and the healing to happen. Accidents happen but I imagine it was a very scary thing for everyone involved.

    Get well soon buddy!
    In my vast experience of keeping emergency room and band-aid technology going I have too often experienced mistakes!

    Please get well soon Jay. I hope you can get back to wrenching and enjoying the hobby soon. You are one of the folks that make this hobby fun for the many who look to you for advice and knowledge about these old cars.

    Here’s hoping you a speedy recovery my friend.

    PS, If there is any consolation, I have the opposite problem, my gas car is always getting me steamed.

    Jay, just glad to hear it wasn’t more severe, I know the feeling, a similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago when gas fumes built up in my Ampicar and exploded when I turned the key! I had mostly second-degree burns and some third degree, which hurt like H… for a few weeks, but the good news is we both can thank God that we survived! Buy the way, your eyebrows, eye lashes and hair will grow back! Take Care, Curt

    I hope he gets better soon. i just dont get it — whats the point a steam powered car that STILL NEEDS gas or kerosene? dont make sense.

    Because they don’t make 750 degree candles. How else are you going to boil water? Coal? Wood? Oh, wait! Batteries!

    We love you Jay and you will be in our thoughts and prayers….when accidents occur,you can repair the damage to the item and/or car but not always the person.
    May you have speedy recovery( restoration).

    Always sad to see another car guy w troubles. Glad to hear the report of you getting back on your feet soon.
    P.S. No offense, how’s the car?

    So Jay:
    I gotta say: Richard Pryor did it louder faster and better 20 years ago… 🙂

    Too much?
    Jay Leno is so HOT right now!

    Oh Jay is such a Burner right now. 🙂

    Geez swamibob, why not throw in a Niki Lauda reference, plus maybe Michael Jackson, Romain Grosjean, and the people on the Hindenburg? I’m sorry, but your attempts were a perfect flameout. (oh, darn, now you got me doin’ it!) 😆

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