US comedian Jay Leno has described the moment his face caught on fire in a blaze that left him with burns on around 7% of his body.
The former Tonight Show host suffered severe burns to his hands and chest, as well as third-degree burns to his face, after one of his vintage cars erupted into flames in his Los Angeles garage last month.
He suffered “deep second-degree” and possibly third-degree burns in the fire but was released from hospital on 21 November.
In his first interview since suffering the injuries, the 72-year-old told NBC’s Today show he was working on his 1907 White Motor Co steam-powered car with a friend when he noticed the vehicle’s fuel line was clogged.
“So I was underneath it, trying to unclog (it), and I said, ‘blow some air through the line,'” Leno recalled.
“Then suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas and then the pilot light jumped, and my face caught on fire.”
He added that his friend pulled him out and “jumped” on top of him, managing to smother the flames.
Leno was taken by ambulance to a hospital and then sent to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where he received hyperbaric treatment – an oxygen therapy that can accelerate burn wound healing.
Due to his injuries, he remained in hospital for more than a week.
Skin grafts from ‘human cadaver skin’
“I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire,” Leno said in a statement last month. “I am OK. Just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”
Director of the Grossman Burn Center, Dr Peter Grossman, told NBC Los Angeles that Leno had burns to “approximately 7% of his body” and he had been treated with temporary skin grafts from “human cadaver skin”.
Upon his release from hospital, Leno posed for pictures with members of staff, revealing some of his burns.
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‘Never thought of myself as a roast comic’
Despite the ordeal, he returned to stand-up comedy just days after he was released and held a sold-out show in California.
“Never thought of myself as a roast comic,” he joked at the event. “We got two shows tonight, regular and extra crispy.”
Leno, who also hosts the reality series Jay Leno’s Garage, is well-known for his love of cars.
He has an estimated 180 cars and 160 motorcycles at his garage near Hollywood Burbank Airport, according to duPont Registry, a marketplace and publication for rare and classic auto collectors.