(CNN) -- A tanker plane crashed during takeoff at Point Mugu naval air base in Southern California Wednesday evening, but the three people aboard escaped with minor injuries, a U.S. Navy spokesman said.
The plane crashed at 5:25 p.m. PT, base spokesman Vance Vasques said in a statement. The resulting fire was extinguished about three and a half hours later.
The Boeing 707, operated by Omega Air Refueling, went down near the beach, spewing large plumes of black smoke, CNN affiliate KABC reported.
The Ventura County Fire Department sent a full response team, including a helicopter and three fire engines, spokesman Ron Oatman said.
The National Air Transportation Board is conducting an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Omega Air Refueling is contracted by the Navy to provide fleet operations support at Point Mugu.
CNN's Irving Last contributed to this report.