The Boeing 707 skidded off a runway at the naval air base in at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and the aircraft burst into flames.
Three crew members aboard the plane were able to walk away from the accident. Naval base spokesperson Vance Vasquez said one person sustained minor injuries, while the other two were fine.
"It's a miracle in itself that they were able to get out of that airplane, especially with all that fuel that was on the airplane," he said.
The tanker was carrying about 150,000 pounds of fuel on board. The plane is operated by Omega Aerial Refueling Services, which contracts with the Navy to provide fleet operations and fuel-transport services.
It's unknown where the plane was heading when it crashed.
Kenneth Young of Reseda was camping at Thornhill Broome Beach when he saw thick black smoke up the coast.
"It was kind of scary, you see the big plume of smoke coming this way, and the wind was coming, so you're not too sure if you're going to catch fire or something," Young said.
At first, Young and his girlfriend thought there might be a forest fire, but a friend later told them it was a plane that had crashed.
"It kept burning for a long time. I don't know how long it burned, but it burned for at least two, three hours," Young said.
The fire was out shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The plane stopped a few hundred feet short of the ocean, but a spokesperson at the base says the fuel on board the tanker did not leak into the water.