Jay Leno Shares Accident Details in First Interview Since His 'Face Caught Fire'

Leno told Today's Hoda Kotb that he apparently played it cool while his face was entirely engulfed in a "wall of flames."

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Jay Leno
Photo: Gabe Ginsberg / Contributor (Getty Images)

Last month, news broke that Jay Leno had been seriously burned by a car fire in his garage. His injuries required a skin graft and two surgeries, and he was eventually released from the hospital (understandably) looking a little rough. At least he was able to spend Thanksgiving with his family as he recovered. Now he’s feeling good enough to talk about what happened.

In an interview with Today’s Hoda Kotb, Leno looked like his recovery was going well. He even took a break from his typical denim-on-denim and threw on a dress shirt and suit for the occasion. After joking about getting a call from President Biden while he was in Indonesia, Leno explained how the accident happened from his perspective.

According to Leno, while working on his 1907 White steam-powered car with his friend Dave Killackey, “The fuel line was clogged, so I was underneath it, trying to unclog it. I said, ‘Blow some air through the line,’... Then poof! And suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas. And then the pilot light jumped, and my face caught on fire.”

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“I said to my friend, ‘Dave, I’m on fire,’ and Dave was like, ‘OK.’ I said, ‘No, Dave. I’m on fire,” Leno recalled.

The way Killackey tells it, the face fire was worse than Leno would like people to believe. “I couldn’t even see his face,” he said. “He downplays it now, but I couldn’t even see his face. I’m telling you, he was really engulfed... It was a wall of fire.”

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Lucky for Leno, Killackey was able to pull him out from under the car, smother the flames, and eventually put the car fire out, as well. Leno was able to go to the bathroom to attempt to cool his burns down with water, but when Killackey got in there to have a look at the damage, he described it as “horrific” and “a scary thing.

Despite doctors telling Leno he needed to go to a burn center, he says he instead decided to drive himself home since his wife doesn’t drive, and he didn’t want her to be stuck at home wondering what had happened to him. Eventually, though, his wife did talk him into going to the hospital where he spent nine days being treated for his injuries.

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We’re happy to hear that he’s doing well and see him in good spirits after such a bad accident. If you want to watch the rest of the interview, you can do that here.