New invention designed to help break up ice jams in Fremont

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FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT) - Helicopter pilot Brent Wulf spent the last year working on 'The Hexagon." It's a tool he's been using to break ice jams. To him, it's a common-sense solution.

"The idea of basically a wrecking ball is not a novel idea," Wulf said.

Wulf first started brainstorming when a crew was dispatched last winter to blow up an ice jam.

"I've been told it was $50,000 to get the blasting crew here a year ago and they didn't even throw any dynamite out," Wulf said.

He knew there had to be a faster and more affordable way to get the job done.

The Hexagon is a 500lb. metal weight held afloat by two barrels. It's been used to break ice nearly a foot thick.

"It was just enough to break a chunk the size of this building loose," Wulf said.

After being dropped, The Hexagon is hoisted back in the air by an electromagnet and heavy-duty rope that can hold more than a thousand pounds.

Tuesday was the second time Wulf has used it.

"Just setting the weight on the ice was enough to kind of break it lose," Wulf said.

As of Wednesday, the Platte River ice jam is mostly slush and chunks of ice, so Wulf has been dragging the Hexagon instead of dropping it. It can be tricky to get the magnet in place and this method has worked to move the loose slush.

Wulf sees his invention as a handy tool when you need a fast fix.

"If it's a smaller one or something this is capable of then we could probably fly for two weeks straight for 50-thousand dollars," Wulf said.

The Papio NRD is typically in charge of breaking jams. Six News is told they can see the Hexagon as a helpful tool but they don't plan to break the jam themselves.

The jam is seasonal and average. Instead, they said the focus should be put on levee repair.

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