Jay Leno might have died in the fire at his California garage if not for the action of his friend. In an interview with TMZ, the former Tonight Show host and avid car collector says he was fixing a clogged fuel line on a 1907 White Steam Car—featured on Jay Leno's Garage—when gas sprayed onto his face and hands. "Almost simultaneously a spark triggered an explosion, setting the comedian on fire," per TMZ. The 72-year-old says his friend, identified only as Dave, quickly jumped on him, smothering the flames and limiting the damage.
Mechanic George Swift, to whom Leno relayed the story, tells Fox News that "he never lost consciousness." Leno, transported to Los Angeles' Grossman Burn Center, suffered third-degree burns, including on the left side of his face, but Swift says it could've been much worse. As TMZ reports, Leno could have died. As it stands, he's likely to remain at the burn center for five to 10 days and may need skin grafts, though he avoided damage to his eye and ear. "He's a tough guy" and is "in great spirits," adds Swift. (Read more Jay Leno stories.)