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Aircraft catches fire at Point Mugu's naval air station

May 18, 2011|By Andrew Blankstein and Robert J. Lopez | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Firefighters aided by a water-dropping helicopter were battling the blaze that broke out Wednesday evening on an aircraft loaded with fuel at Point Mugu naval air station.

Three crew members aboard the B-707 were able to escape from the plane and were transported to nearby hospitals with minor injuries, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

The aircraft, which was carrying about 150,000 pounds of fuel, was attempting to take off about 5:25 p.m. from the main runway when it skidded out of control, said Vance Vasquez, a spokesman for the base.

Thick clouds of black smoke billowed from the crumpled fuselage and could be seen for miles as they were pushed by ocean winds.

The three crew members -- a pilot, co-pilot and navigator -- worked for Omega Aerial Refueling Services, which contracts with the Navy to refuel aircraft.

The Fire Department was assisting base air crews as they battled the flames, officials said.

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