Stephen Hunt, 38, was among 60 firefighters called to the fire at the store-room of a shop in Oldham Street.
A spokesman said he got into difficulty at about 20:35 BST along with another firefighter and both were pulled out and taken to hospital.
County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: "We are devastated by the loss of one of our colleagues who has died in the line of duty."
Mr Hunt, a father-of-two, based at Manchester's Philips Park Fire Station, was confirmed dead in hospital.
The other injured firefighter is not thought to have life-threatening injuries, a Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.
The fire broke out in the underground store-room of Paul's Hair World at about 14:50 BST and was still being dealt with on Sunday morning.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze had been particularly difficult to tackle because of the complex layout of the building and the amount of material inside.
"We never expect to lose a colleague in this way and it brings home the dangers that our firefighters put themselves in every day to keep the community safe," Mr McGuirk said.
"Stephen had been a dedicated firefighter since 2008 and we are all in a state of shock."
"It is a very sad day for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and all our thoughts are with Stephen's family and friends."
An investigation is being carried out in conjunction with the police to establish the cause of the blaze. Mr McGuirk said at this stage arson was not being ruled out.
The Merseyside and Lancashire fire services are expected to lead an investigation into the circumstances around Mr Hunt's death.
Many of his colleagues remain at the scene tackling the blaze and Mr McGuirk paid tribute to their "professionalism, courage and dedication" while "mourning" their colleague's death.