Speed Reads

'a wall of fire'

Jay Leno gives 1st interview since accident: 'My face caught on fire'

Jay Leno has given his first interview since suffering severe burns after a car fire incident in his garage. 

Speaking with the Today show, the comedian provided details of the accident, explaining the fuel line was clogged on a 1907 White Steam Car in his garage, so he went underneath the vehicle to fix it. 

"I said, 'Blow some air through the line,'" Leno recounted. His friend Dave Killackey did so, and Leno says he then received "a face full of gas," and "my face caught on fire."

But Killackey told the Today show Leno may be understating the severity of the "horrific" incident. "He was really engulfed," Killackey said. "I couldn't see his face. It was a wall of fire."

Killackey was able to smother the fire, and Leno subsequently went to a burn center, where he received multiple surgeries. He told Today he also spent eight hours a day isolated in a hyperbaric chamber that was "basically a glass coffin." The comedian noted he received "wonderful cards and letters" during his recovery and even a voicemail from President Biden. "That was very nice," he said. "I said, 'I'm sorry you don't have more important things to do, but thank you, Mr. President."

But Leno is already back in action, as he quickly returned to stand-up, and he retained a jovial spirit with numerous cracks throughout the interview.

"Actually, the most expensive part of the whole operation was the gasoline," Leno quipped. "We're in California. It's $7 a gallon!"