A Boeing 707 tanker skidded off a runway and burst into flames during takeoff at a Southern California Navy base Wednesday, injuring the three people on board, an air base spokeswoman said.

Broadcast reports showed flames and thick black smoke pouring from the light-colored jet after it slid off the runway at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu about 5:25 p.m.

The three on board, all civilian employees, escaped with minor injuries, spokeswoman Teri Reid said. The fire was put out shortly after 9 p.m.

Reid said the plane is operated by Alexandria, Va.-based-Omega Aerial Refueling Services, Inc., which contracts with the Navy to provide fleet operations support and fuel transport services.

Omega president W. Stewart Orr declined comment when reached by phone.

During the firefighting operation, a helicopter dumped several loads of water on the plane with little immediately discernible effect.

Firefighters on the ground appeared to let the fire burn but doused the area around the tanker. The stricken plane came to a rest within a few hundred feet of the Pacific Ocean, but Reid said none of the fuel seeped into the water.

It's not known where the tanker was headed at the time of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the cause of the crash.

The Naval base is located about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.