In an interview with Hoda Kotb from “Today,” his first since the November 12 incident, the comedian, 72, said he was working underneath an antique 1907 car alongside his friend Dave Killackey when a series of events led to his injuries.
“The fuel line was clogged so I was underneath it. It sounded clogged and I said, ‘Blow some air through the line,’ and so he did,” Leno, an avid car collector, recalled to Kotb. “And suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas. And then the pilot light jumped and my face caught on fire.”
The “Jay Leno’s Garage” star said he told Killackey, “Dave, I’m on fire,” to which his friend at first simply responded, “All right.”
“I said, ‘No, Dave, I’m on fire.’ And then, ‘Oh, my God,'” Leno added. “Dave, my friend, pulled me out and jumped on top of me and kind of smothered the fire.”
Leno was first taken to a local hospital, and then he was transferred to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles after the incident, CNN previously reported.
In a news conference on November 16, Dr. Peter Grossman, who treated the former “Tonight Show” host, said “it was noted that he had pretty significant burns to face and hands,” going on to say that the burns were on Leno’s “face, his hands, and his chest.”
The burns were a mixture of second-degree and possibly some third-degree burns, according to Grossman, who added that “some of the burns to the face are a little deeper and a little more concerning.”
Although Leno’s injuries were serious, Grossman said at the time that the funnyman was expected to make a full recovery.
Sure enough, just two weeks after the accident, Leno performed in front of a sold-out crowd at his regular haunt the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California, according to a spokesperson for the club at the time.
According to NBC, Leno joked to reporters outside the venue, “We got two shows tonight. Regular and extra crispy.”
This week’s interview will appear on NBC News’ “Today” show on Wednesday.
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