THE owners of the prestigious Harrogate hotel which was the scene of a fatal fire this month have paid tribute to the “loyal and friendly” staff member who died.

North Yorkshire Police yesterday named the dead man as 41-year-old kitchen porter Nigel Butterfield.

A spokesman for Barceló UK, owners of the Majestic Hotel, said: “We extend our deep sympathy to his family at this time. Nigel worked for the hotel for nearly 20 years as a kitchen porter and he will be much missed by his friends and colleagues.

“The police have advised us that the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.”

General manager Vince Johnson said: “Nigel was a loyal and friendly person and will be greatly missed by everyone at the Barceló Harrogate Majestic Hotel.

“He was very reliable and was part of the fundamental backbone of the hotel. We are extremely sad to have lost such a well-loved and hard-working colleague.”

Mr Butterfield died when fire broke out in his room in the fifth floor staff quarters of the historic 19th-century hotel.

The incident saw 132 guests evacuated in the early hours of May 5, as fire crews from two counties battled for hours to halt the flames.

Barceló UK has announced the hotel is to remain closed until June 6, when an assessment will be made on the damaged staff rooms, guest rooms and dining area.

The spokesman said: “We will continue to work closely with hotels in the Harrogate district to offer alternative accommodation wherever possible. We are grateful for all the help and co-operation we have received from everybody in the community.”