LONDON - London's firefighting authority declared a major incident in the British capital on Tuesday in response to the surge in fires amid a record-breaking heatwave in Britain and Europe.

The London Fire Brigade said it had deployed dozens of fire engines to several fires in and around the city, including thirty to a grass fire in east London. Television footage showed one blaze engulfing several homes.

"Firefighters are still meeting the needs of our communities, but declaring a major incident allows us to focus our resources," the brigade said.

Britain recorded its highest ever temperature, breaking 40C (104F) for the first time, as a heatwave gripping Europe intensified, scorching fields and damaging airport runways and train tracks.

"This is critical: @LondonFire is under immense pressure. Please be safe," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter,

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James)