Jay Leno Reveals Graphic Details About His Car Fire Burns

Jay Leno has revealed new details about the severe burns he was left with following an accident at his Los Angeles garage and the treatment he is receiving for them. The 72-year-old was hospitalized and forced to cancel his upcoming engagements after a car from his vast collection doused him in gasoline and set him on fire. Initial reports described the burns as "severe" and described injuries to the comedian's arms and the left side of his face. Luckily, the presenters eyes and ears were reportedly undamaged in the accident.

In a statement to SlashGear, the former talk show host said, "I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire. I am ok. Just need a week or two to get back on my feet."

Leno has been receiving treatment for his injuries at the Grossman Burn Center, widely seen as the best in the world. His love of cars is well known, and his collection consists of over 180 cars and 160 motorcycles. Some of the vehicles in his collection, like his McLaren F1, are worth over $20 million dollars — though the lifelong motoring enthusiast didn't pay that much when he bought it. Leno has described his McLaren as "the best investment he's ever made" and the 90s supercar icon isn't responsible for the burns he received. Those came from a far older vehicle. Many items in Leno's collection have historical significance, but that historical significance comes with a price. They come from an era with far lower safety standards than we currently have, which means no seatbelts, thinner tires, difficult control systems, and ignition methods that could lead to disaster.

Leno was injured by a steam car

Leno's injuries were caused by a 1907 White Steam Car, one of several steam cars he has in his collection. The antique vehicle is very different from a modern car. You can't just hop in the driver's seat and turn a key when you want to go somewhere. The process is a lot more involved and can be pretty dangerous. When you consider how a steam car is started, it's easy to grasp the fact there's an element of danger there. As Leno himself demonstrates in the above video, a pilot flame is lit, then the engine is drained of excess water. Vaporized gasoline is then sprayed onto the flame, which burns intensely and heats the boiler. As the water in the boiler heats up, pressure builds, and after around 10 minutes the car is ready to go. The pressurized steam is used to drive the engine's pistons, which then move the car's wheels.

Leno's accident reportedly occurred when a leak caused the steam car's fuel to cover his face and arms. A spark then ignited the fuel, setting him on fire. Luckily for the 72-year-old, one of his friends was nearby and managed to quickly smother and extinguish the flames. Fire crews responded to the accident, and the celebrity was transported to hospital.

The comedian has received some top of the line treatments

Leno is at what is widely considered the best burns treatment center in the United States, and arguably the best burns unit in the world. This means the motoring enthusiast has access to a wide range of advanced treatments that may be unavailable in other locations, as well as doctors who can get the most out of those treatments. One interesting aspect of Leno's care involves the use of a hyperbaric chamber. According to The Mayo Clinic, a hyperbaric chamber places patients in an environment where they can be surrounded by pure oxygen at two to three times regular atmospheric pressure. This kind of treatment is usually recommended for patients "who are suffering serious infections," have "bubbles of air in their blood vessels," or have "wounds that may not heal because of diabetes or radiation injury." The treatment boosts the amount of oxygen your lungs can take in, and subsequently increases the amount of oxygen in the patient's bloodstream. This in turn causes the body to release substances called growth factors and stem cells, which help the patient heal.

Leno has also received skin grafts to help the injured areas heal. The skin used in the surgery wasn't Leno's own, but instead came from the center's "skin bank" of donor tissue. This is less common than other types of skin graft, as donor tissue is sometimes difficult to come by. It is also a bit riskier than an "autograft" — a skin graft where tissue from the patient's own body is used. As with other organs, there is a chance a body may see donor skin as foreign and reject the graft (via Very Well Health).

Leno could be back on his feet soon

The comedian has a long road to recovery, which his doctors say will involve at least one more skin graft surgery — but it is too early to tell how bad his injuries will be in the long term. From what Leno's doctors have said, they will probably have a better idea of the star's prognosis following his next trip to the operating room. Dr. Peter Grossman, who is treating Leno, said, "We'll assess what he needs from there and hopefully definitely get his wounds to close." In a different interview, Grossman told the New York Times, "Our hope is that when everything is all said and done he will do well, but burn injuries are progressive and dynamic and it's hard to predict ultimately what the final outcome will be at this stage in the game."

While the long term effects of Leno's injuries are unknown, Grossman seems confident of the 72-year-old's personal fortitude and ability to get back to work following a short recovery period. The kind of burns Leno received have been described as the most painful kind of injury, and Grossman has commended the comedian's high pain threshold, and the attitude he has displayed following the accident. He said, "As I'm getting to learn about Jay, I don't think it's going to be months. I really think he's the type of guy who's just going to move forward." 

So, as Leno predicted, we could see him getting back to business in a few weeks, even if it may be a little longer before he hits 100% again.