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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    Finally! Some payback for stealing the Tonight Show from Letterman!! Seriously though, I’m an RN and know that burns and subsequent treatments are a bitch, and I wish you well. No doubt your chin blocked some of those flames? Get back in the car soon Mr. Leno, and keep driving down the road!

    Jay from one car guy to another, I wish you all the best in your recovery. Thanks for sharing all the miles and smiles.
    Brian Pugsley

    I was saddened to hear this bad news. I hope you will heal quickly and that this will be another chapter that is closed in the book of Jay.

    Hope you recover quickly Jay. My daughter was burned on her face from a spilled coffee urn about 40 years ago. I have seen what it involves.

    Wishing you a quick recovery Jay. We’re the same age and through the years I’m sure have both been bathed in gasoline on other occasions, either intentionally or accidently. Pure luck has kept it from igniting all those other times.
    Looking forward to a time when you can resume your column (always read it first).
    All the best in your recovery.

    I hope you feel better and recover quickly Jay. There’s a ton of us out there who live thru you vicariously! Especially when you are telling stories like the McLaren one that you told Jeremy on Top Gear. I imagine that the White is probably fine….from what I have seen on some of your videos a large open flame is just Standard Operating Procedure 🙂

    Sure glad you had a friend there to put out the fire Jay – might be time to come up with a roboextinguisher you could have on the floor beside you that would flood the area with Halon as on race courses – if the Halon is nontoxic – or CO2 – if it didn’t smother you! We car guys have got to have you around until the last ICE car succumbs!

    Hello Jay, Wishing you a speedy recovery and all the best for a happy and healthy return to your passion. Us gear heads look to you for knowledge, passion and most of all respect for being an everyday guy and one of us. Take care and we look forward to seeing you back on Jay Leno’s Garage.

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